The early church was established during the reign of the Roman empire. It was a culture shock for them because Christianity preached that all Christians, free, or slaves, of various races and nationalities, were all the equal in Christ (Gal. 3:26–29).
The early Church as described in the book of Acts by the apostle, Paul, was a very different one from the one that prevails today. Let us look at five ways in which the early church was different from the church of today.
The early church had members of various races and cultures in it across different countries. The church of Antioch as described in Acts 13 is a strong example of it. But they all co-existed and worked alongside one another in perfect peace and harmony as seen throughout the book of Acts. In Ephesians 2 we see racial harmony as a fruit of the preaching and practicing of the gospel among Christians.
2. Forgiveness and Unity
During those times where Christian persecution was actively practised, the early church members practised forgiveness and withheld retaliation. They never spoke against the authorities and didn’t take revenge for all the beatings, killings and torture inflicted on them.
The early church members would care for each other as if they were family members. Their help rendered to fellow Christians from different tribes and tongues as shown in Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37) was unseen and unheard of at those times. They would care for the sick, dying and suffering irrespective of race or country which is a wonderful example for churches of today to practice.
4. Protection of life
They were opposed to abortion and unwanted infants were taken in by the Christians who took them in and looked after the babies like their own children.
5. Values and Principles
During the reign of the Roman empire, married women abstained from extramarital affairs but men were allowed to have affairs with women of lower statues like prostitutes, slaves and illegitimate offsprings. But the church took a stand and forbade any sex outside of heterosexual marriage.
What an exemplary leadership and behavior shown by the early church to their members, the rulers of the Roman empire, and to the world at large. Can the church of today practice this blameless behavior today? We need to introspect and change ourselves first, before we point fingers at others.