In his Apology (AD 197), Tertullian argued that the Roman government should stop persecuting its best citizens. He said that Christians not only prayed for the emperor and the empire, but they also sacrificed for the sake of their neighbors. He said they pooled their money "to feed the poor and to bury them; for boys and girls who lack property and parents; and then for slaves grown old and ship-wrecked mariners; and any who may be in mines, islands, or prisons." They didn't use their cash to fund lavish banquets as the Romans did.
This "trust fund of piety" was so successful that when a new emperor named Julian the Apostate wanted to return Rome to its pre-Constantinian, pagan ways a century and a half later, he discovered that paganism had been thoroughly discredited by the charity of the Christians. Julian complained that he could not turn people from the Christian faith when "the impious Galileans [Christians] support not only their own poor but ours as well."
A similar opportunity exists today. James 1:27 states, "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress." Christians are rightly known for opposing abortion. What if we were also known for supporting adoption?
What would happen if our churches were lovers of orphans; if our church directories were as diverse as the world; if we made disciples of all nations in part by adopting their most at-risk members; and if mothers considering abortion chose life because they knew they could give their child to any number of Christian homes?
We would be imitators of God, who has adopted us into His family, and we would generate praise from non-Christians who witness our good works. They just might become followers of Jesus; but if not, they would at least understand why someone would. , Mike Wittmer, Our Daily Journey
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