A.L.I.V.E.—The “E” Is For Engagement Of Christ’s Followers

Let’s get some insight into the Greco-Roman and Jewish mindsets of the first century AD. Specifically, the mindset of men. 

There is a well-known letter written June 17, 1 BC, from a man named Hilarion, who was gone off to Alexandria, to his wife Alis, whom he has left at home. He writes to her: “If—good luck to you—you bear a child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, throw it out.” This letter captures the male-dominated mindset in the Roman world concerning women and children. In a word: inferior or even disposable. 

This mindset wasn’t limited to the world the Jews called “pagan,” but it was prevalent in Judaism too. Every day Jewish men began their morning prayer time with, “God, I thank You that You did not make me a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” 

With this background, it makes it startling that a Jewish man (who prayed that prayer thousands of times) writing to people in Rome (who undoubtedly had the same mindset as Hilarion), begins his list of thank you notes with gratitude to two women! Paul goes on to list no less than 8 women, even giving preferential treatment to a wife (Priscilla) over her husband (Aquila) when he mentions her name first! (see Romans 16:1-4, 6, 12).

William Barclay wrote, “Anyone who asks the question: ‘What has Christianity done for the world?’ has delivered himself into a Christian debater’s hands. There is nothing in history so unanswerably demonstrable as the transforming power of Christianity and of Christ on the individual life and on the life of society.”

Indeed Christians changed the lives of at least four groups:

  1. Women (especially in the role of marriage)—divorce was so common that it was neither unusual nor particularly blameworthy for a woman to have a new husband every year. Yet Christians taught men to esteem their wives and for marriage to be honored by everyone (Ephesians 5:28; Hebrews 13:4). 
  2. Children—who weren’t even considered a part of the family until they had grown up and proven their worth to the father. Yet Christians taught fathers to nurture their children (Ephesians 6:4).
  3. Senior citizens—the pragmatic Romans had little to do with those they considered less valuable. But the first blind asylum was founded by Thalasius, a Christian monk; the first free medical dispensary was founded by Apollonius, a Christian merchant; the first hospital of which there is any record was founded by Fabiola, a Christian lady.
  4. The weak and sick—when a plague hit Rome, all the young, healthy people left the sick and elderly behind. They ran away, but the Christians stayed to help. The Christians taught that everyone (regardless of age, sex, or wealth) was valuable (1 Timothy 5:1-2). 

That was just the start of Christianity. Men like William Wilberforce and Abraham Lincoln were Christians who opposed slavery; Clara Barton was nicknamed “the angel of the battlefield” and founded the Red Cross; Paul Brand was a doctor who ran to leprosy patients when everyone else shunned them; Mother Teresa loved those poor, dying souls whom others ignored. 

So what’s your conclusion? Throughout history Christians have been martyred for their faith, but not only are they willing to die for their belief that Jesus is alive, but they continue to do good to those who persecute them. Would people do this to perpetrate a hoax? Or does this sound more like the real deal?

Please check out the other evidence I have presented for the resurrection of Jesus:

Run To The Pain

Run to the painWe have become a numbed culture: we try to soften every blow, water down each negative report, ask only surface questions in the hopes that no one will really tell us how much they’re hurting, and then medicate away every symptom. But these symptoms are screaming to be noticed!

Dr. Paul Brand the renown hand surgeon and missionary to leprosy patients in India, wrote:

“Pain contributes daily to a normal person’s quality of life…. Every normal person limps occasionally. Sadly, leprosy patients do not limp. Their injured legs never get the rest needed for healing…. This inability to ‘hear’ pain can cause permanent damage because the body’s careful responses to danger will break down. … A body only possesses unity to the degree that it possess pain…. We must develop a lower threshold of pain by listening, truly listening, to those who suffer. … The body protects poorly what it does not feel.” (emphasis added)

The Gospels often talk of the compassion of Jesus. His compassion led Him to teach the confused, feed the hungry, and heal the sick. The phrase usually used in the KJV is descriptive: Jesus was moved with compassion. In other words His feelings moved Him to action.

The Old English way of describing compassion was to say someone was “moved in his bowels.” This is because the suffering of someone else should be like a kick in my gut too.

Jesus gravitated toward the hurting, but in one story He told, Jesus related something different about His Father’s compassion. It’s the story we now call the story of the prodigal son. In this story Jesus said His Father watched the horizons every day to see if His wayward child would return. When He saw this child coming into view, God saw his slumped shoulders, He could detect his heavy heart and worn-out body. Then Jesus says something amazing, “The Father was moved with compassion and He RAN TO HIS SON!

If our Heavenly Father runs TO another’s pain, what right do we have to ever run AWAY from it? 

If we are to be God-honoring in our interaction with others, we need to (as Dr. Brand says) lower our threshold of pain. We need to feel what others feel, to feel it like a kick in our own gut, and then move toward the pain with help and healing and restoration.

Christians—if we are truly Christ-like—should be known as the most compassionate people of anyone. What are you doing to let this be seen in your life?

My Injured Thumb

I sliced my thumb open yesterday. Okay, maybe “sliced” is a little too dramatic. But I did cut my thumb, and it did bleed. True, it didn’t gush blood — more like oozed blood — but blood was escaping my body. It was a small cut; perhaps a ¼-inch long.

I pressed a tissue on it until is stopped bleeding. I washed my thumb thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water. I applied some Neosporin ointment. And I wrapped the injury in a fresh Band-aid.

All of this care and concern for a small cut on my thumb.

Do you realize how much one uses their thumb in the course of a day?

  • Trying to rinse dishes in the sink I couldn’t hold the plate or the dish scrubber without my thumb being involved.
  • My thumb was involved when I turned the doorknob of the front door.
  • When I was opening a package of fruit snacks for my son, my thumb was needed for either the holding or the ripping.
  • Ditto when I attempted to open the lid of the Diet Pepsi two-liter bottle.

That small cut on the thumb on my non-dominant hand was affecting my entire day. One little cut and my entire body was adversely affected!

A friend called me the other day. His heart was ripped open. Okay, maybe “ripped” is a little too dramatic. But he was emotionally damaged. True, he didn’t need a trip the emergency room and he probably won’t have to start taking anti-depressants, but emotional “blood” was escaping his heart.

He called me, and I responded. One little wound in my friend’s heart and I was affected! Do you realize how much one’s emotions are involved in the course of a day?

Dr. Paul Brand was a renowned hand surgeon and missionary who worked with leprosy patients in India for years. He learned that leprosy doesn’t mangle a person’s foot or hand, but their lack of ability to feel pain does. They don’t feel the cut on their pinky toe or left thumb, and so they never attend to it. The injury becomes infected, and still no pain registers to tell them to take care of it. Eventually serious, irreversible damage is done.

Listen to what Dr. Brand wrote in his book In His Image

“A body only possesses unity to the degree that it possess pain…. We must develop a lower threshold of pain by listening, truly listening, to those who suffer. The word compassion itself comes from Latin words cum and pati; together meaning ‘to suffer with.’ …The body protects poorly what it does not feel.”

“Management of pain requires a delicate balance between proper sensitivity, to determine its cause and mobilize a response, and enough inner strength to keep the pain from dominating the whole person. For the Body of Christ, the balance is every bit as delicate and as imperative.”

We must develop a lower threshold of pain by listening, truly listening. …The body protects poorly what it does not feel. Are you listening, truly listening to those who are hurting around you today? You are connected to them. If one person hurts, we all hurt.

Truly listen. If they are hurting, it does affect you… and me. Let’s find them, bandage them, apply ointment to their wounds, and protect them from further injury. Let’s feel their pain so we can protect them from further pain.

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