A Radical Refusal

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

‘Church’ in America is usually associated with a building because that’s where we meet. But the first church was mobile, and it consisted of 12 people. The first church was a group of 12 people who traveled, and Jesus was the pastor.

It all began so small. The early church in Rome was so persecuted and hated by the Romans that no one would have ever thought that in 300 years, the Roman Emperor would legalize Christianity. Rome was the nation that despised Christians to the core, setting Christians on fire and slaughtering them left and right, and yet, the Roman Emperor Constantine would legalize Christianity 300 years later. How?

It’s in our DNA to change the world. It was in the early church’s DNA to change the world, starting with the nation that hated them the most.

Rome faced two terrible pandemics during these years. When a Roman’s loved one fell sick, they would leave that family member to die, and they would quarantine somewhere else. As so many Romans were left behind by their families and friends, Christians came and took care of them. The Christians refused to leave, and instead, chose to love those who were left behind.

The early church put themselves in danger, and they loved the people who hated them. The children who were left alone were adopted. The widows were taken care of. The homeless found homes, and the friendless found friends all because a group of people chose to love.

This love is contagious because it doesn’t make sense. Logically, there’s no reason for a person to care for someone who has hated them, or who has killed their family, friends, and ancestors, but God works outside of logic. If you were that Roman, can you imagine a love like that? Can you imagine grace like that? Your own people leave you in the street to die, and a Christian comes up to you and takes you in even though you’ve hated the Christian people all your life.

Rome changed because the Church refused to stop loving.

Oh, that this would be our intent—to refuse to stop loving. To change the world not by force, greed, selfish ambition, or manipulation, but by choosing to love in the most impossible, unlikely circumstances. It’s been done once, and it can be done again.  

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