No One Said The Church Would Do This Today

No student said that Christians would do it today. They all said the church had changed...

I was teaching class today, and the topic came to how the Roman Empire was Christianized. 

One of the things that led to many becoming converted was Christian fearlessness in the face of death. This was seen in the famous martyrdoms, but it was also seen in the plagues.

Back then a plague would sweep into town and kill many of the people living within. These plagues did not kill .1% of a population, but would leave many families losing loved ones. 

Oftentimes the doctors and wealthy would see a plague and flee out of town. This did not end just with the Roman Empire. When the Black Plague hit London in 1665 it was devastating. Some parts of London lost so many people that the record keepers all died, so we'll never know the exact percentages. But the guess is that there were districts where HALF the population died.

We can't even fathom it. Painful, excruciating, embarrassing, awful deaths of agony. Loved ones, children, family, friends, neighbors, all in an instant swept up in a summer of disease and death. 

This was common throughout history. 

And it was common to flee from it. 

What was uncommon: The Christian response to plague. 

They did not run from the town. 

They ran to the sick. 

While the sick lay dying, they cared for their fevers, fed them, nourished them. They put themselves RIGHT into the mouth of disease and death to heal and care for the sick. 

And it made all the difference. People saw that someone cared for their dying loved ones. They saw someone willing to risk their lives to save them. 

They saw people who were truly not afraid of death. 

It was so powerful in London, so many came to the Puritan side, that the King had to pass the 5 mile act to stop it. In Rome it led to the conversions of countless souls! 

Martin Luther helped care for plague victims when it struck Germany in the middle of the Reformation. JC Ryle when he was a country doctor had to go door to door forcing people to drink tea to tend to the sick when his congregation got caught up in an outbreak. Mary Reed went and ministered directly to the leper colonies so that she could share the gospel with those who had been forgotten by history. Jonathan Edwards took care of dying David Brainerd who had tuberculosis, and it cost him his daughter.

The idea of the hospital itself was invented by Christians seeking to take care of the sick. 

When I shared these stories with my classes I asked them if they thought Christians were still this fearless in the face of disease and death. 

And sadly, we all agreed, that this fearlessness and courage seems to have waned. Although there may be individuals who would do it, it was no longer the norm. In fact, Christians seemed to now live in fear of these things as much as anyone else, they thought. 

We have changed. But let us not give up. The church has a long legacy of caring for and healing up the sick and dying. 

Let us pray to become fearless again in the face of all things, even disease and death. For there are many lost souls who need us to be bold.