Even the Pagans Realized Something Was Different

Recently I have been reading a historical study by Rodney Stark, The Rise of Christianity.  A sociologist of religion, Stark investigated the success of the early Christian movement, which, starting from a few thousand followers, grew to encompass half of the population of the Roman Empire in three centuries.  In the midst of a hostile environment, the Christians simply acted on their beliefs.  Going against the majority culture, they treated slaves as human beings, often liberating them, and elevated women to positions of leadership.  When an epidemic hit their towns, they stayed behind to nurse the sick.  They refused to participate in such common practices as abortion and infanticide.  They responded to persecution as martyrs, not as terrorists. And when Roman social networks disintegrated, the church stepped in.  Even one of their pagan critics had to acknowledge that early Christians loved their neighbors “as if they were our own family.”

– Yancey, Phillip

as quoted by Brown, Steve; Three Free Sins: God’s Not Mad At YouHoward Books;  New York, copyright 2012; Kindle Edition; Location 2411