Matthew 25:34–36 (NIV) “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat….I was sick and you looked after me.’”
The year was AD 197. I wasn’t alive back then. I assume you were not either. Though, when I was a kid, I was sure my grandparents were older than Methuselah.
Anyway, in AD 197, a man bent over a desk, scratching a quill over some parchment. Two things were happening in his country which spurred his desire to write this book. 1) Christians suffered as their natural rights as citizens of the Roman Empire were taken away. 2) Many types of diseases plagued the empire.
These two facts do not seem to be connected. But, the man, whose name was Tertullian, saw a connection. His book, Apologia, defended the rights of Christians. He argued that Rome needed Christians, because Christians were the only ones who cared for the sick.
He said: “It is our care for the helpless, our practice of lovingkindness, that brands us in the eyes of many. Of our opponents. ‘See,’ they say, ‘how they love one another.’”
Christians, to their physical danger, were caring for the sick in their community. They delivered meals, brought medication, spent time in conversation and pray, sang songs, did housework. Those who were not of the faith did not take care of the sick and the elderly.
Tertullian’s point: If Christians were being marginalized and bullied, all the good that they did for society would cease.
We, as people of faith, are called to follow the example of Jesus Christ and the early church. He cared for the sick in Judea, being physically present with those society shut out. He looked out for the poor and showed love to the unloved.
In times of crisis, we are all tempted to either become stress paralyzed or, on the other extreme, to dismiss the crisis. Instead of waffling between the extremes, let us do good so that those around us can say “See how they love one another.”
Pastor of Calvary Bible Church, Neligh, NE. Missionary with RHMA. Husband to Maggie. Father to Grace, David, and Daniel. Saved by Jesus Christ