What Ancient Neighbors Said of the Church


Pope Dionysius of Alexandria,

I thought these quotes from two unbelievers, Lucian and Julian, and one believer, Dionysius, speak volumes about how early Christians lived out their faith.

Lucian (120 – c.180) wrote, “It is incredible to see the ardor with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. [Jesus] has put it into their heads that they are all brethren.” Around AD 260, when a plague besieged Alexandria, Dionysius wrote that the Christians “were not sparing of themselves,” visiting and tending to the sick as unto Christ, and “many who nursed others to health died themselves thus transferring their death to themselves.” Julian the Apostate called it a shame that heathens did not support their own, while “among the Jews no beggar can be found, and the godless Galilaeans [Christians] nourish not only their own, but even our own poor.”

What do our neighbors and co-workers say of us? Do you, together with a community of believers, show the love of Christ by meeting people’s needs? These are hard questions for me, too.

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