Evangelism in the Early Church (Part 2)
(Adapted from Michael Green's excellent book, Evangelism in the Early Church.)
The first Christians faced overwhelming odds in spreading the Gospel to the world:
1. They were nobodies. A handful of men without formal religious training were attempting to correct the theology and belief of established religious institutions.
2. They worshipped a man executed as a criminal. This was blashpemy to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.
3. They were a public menace, creating riots and contraversy wherever they went.
4. They were "narrow-minded". In a culture that worshipped any and every diety, they dared to proclaim their religion was the only way to God.
5. They were "unpatriotic". Anyone who would not worship the emporer or acknowledge the official Roman gods was labelled an enemy of the State and punished accordingly.
6. Persecution and death. Within decades the new faith was outlawed. To join the Christians meant to court martyrdom.
7. Wild rumors. A common misunderstanding of the Lord's Supper led many to believe the Christians were cannibals. Similarly, by referring to fellow Christians with loving and affectionate terms like "brother" and "sister", the rumor spread that Christianity was a religion of incest.
8. Ostracisim and Economic Boycott. Many early Christians were abandoned by their friends and family, forbidden to participate in public events, and in some cases even forbidden to use imperial coinage.
9. Social Hardships. Idolatry was everywhere in the ancient world. To avoid involvement, Christians stayed away from gladiatorial games and the theater; they would not join the army, teach in government schools, or become involved in public office. They even steered clear of business contracts because they involved taking oaths.
10. They were "judgmental". Immorality and moral compromise were everywhere in the Roman world, yet the Christians insisted on upholding the highest moral standards.
The early Christians faced all these obstacles, yet still dared to proclaim the good news so that others might be saved. As a result, Christianity became a world-wide religion.
The risks for modern Christians in the West are so much smaller. So let's "make the most of every opportunity" (Colossians 4:5)