Around the year ad 125, Christians were being severely persecuted and even murdered for their faith. To turn the tide of public opinion, a gifted Christian writer named Aristides crafted a detailed defense of Christianity and delivered it to the Roman emperor Hadrian. Look at how Aristides described the selfless way Christians served people in Jesus’ name:
They love one another, and from widows they do not turn away their esteem; and they deliver the orphan from him who treats him harshly. And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their homes and rejoice over him as a very brother; . . . and if there is among them any that is poor and needy, and if they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food.6
If you feel discouraged, I’d like to encourage you to take the next two months and dedicate yourself to mimicking those second-century Christians. Find a widow, buy her groceries, and clean her house for two months. Visit an orphanage and volunteer to tutor the children. Find a homeless person and bring him or her into your house. Get her job training. Help him find transitional housing. Homeless people are no more or less dangerous in the twenty-first century than they were in the second. Fast for two or three days and take the money you would normally spend at the grocery and give it to someone who is without food or resources. Do this for a few months and you’ll feel something inside yourself you thought you’d never feel again: hope.
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