Christianity’s Contributions: Lives changed (Part 2)

Early in the history of the Christian church, the Roman Empire sought to destroy the new religion.  Faithfulness to Jesus and a godly lifestyle was the Church’s crime, and persecution was the penalty.  Emperor Nero (64 AD) was the first to lead a  widespread persecution against the Christians.  The Roman historian Tacitus records the details:

“Mockery of every sort was added to  their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames.   These served to illuminate the night when daylight failed.”

The emperor Decius (250 AD) issued the first empire-wide edict for Christians to sacrifice to the Roman gods.  Obviously, the Christians remained faithful to Jesus and would not have any other god beside Him.  The Christian historian Eusebius (326 AD) records what the Christians suffered for their faithfulness: legs were broken, nose and ears were cut off, eyes were gouged out, people were thrown to wild animals, genitals were mutilated, molten lead was poured down their  backs, women were raped, and many were executed.

Yet in spite of these attacks, the Christian church grew.  Instead of stamping out the faith, the believers grew in number.  It is estimated that the Church comprised about 5-7 million people (about 10% of Roman empire) by 313 AD  when the legalization of the faith became a reality due to the Edict of Milan by the Emperor Constantine.

What drew people to join a band of persecuted believers?  Their faithfulness to Jesus and their moral lifestyle.  Even when attacked, the Christians didn’t attack their enemies in return.   Sadly, some people did join the Church after persecution ended in 313 AD for material or social reasons.  These people, sometimes called “bread Christians,” were followers for what they could get out of the fellowship, not necessarily for their devotion to Christ.  But the vast majority were people who were living a changed life due to their relationship with Jesus.

This was the start of Christianity’s contributions–lives were changed.  Consequently, Christianity transformed the world in many other ways as well.  However, it didn’t set out to do that.  These tranformations were simply a by-product of changed lives.  Faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, followed by a godly lifestyle, changed everything.

 

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July 29, 2015

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