Thursday, 7 November 2013

Compassion and the Spread of Christian Atheism

“True power is service. The pope must serve all people, especially the poor, the weak, the vulnerable.”

Pope Francis seems to be blazing a trail of compassion, humility and love, something that he is doing simply because he is a follower of Jesus.

These virtues should be a natural outworking of a people who follow the Risen Christ, who are filled with His Spirit and who worship the Living God.

The challenge that each of us are presented with is to be a people of mercy, humility, justice, compassion and unconditional love, especially towards the weakest and most vulnerable. 

The revolution of Christianity transformed the world to embrace and practice these things to such an extent that we do not even realise that we are holders of such a legacy, whatever our faith or belief system.

The pagan world into which Christianity was born had no real concept of love for neighbour until the Church introduced the very concept of care and love for the weakest and most vulnerable.  'Love your neighbour' was revolutionised and effected by Jesus followers across the pagan world to such a degree that Julian, a Roman emperor who hated 'Christian atheists' declared,
'It is [the Christian] philanthropy towards strangers, the care they take of the graves of the dead, and the affected sanctity with which they conduct their lives that have done most to spread their atheism.'  Even in the great pandemic plague of 251-266 in Carthage and Alexandria, Christians, whether priest or laity, showed willingness and compassion to care for the sick and bury the dead, even if it meant the cost of their own lives.

Today 'love one another' trips off the tongue with great ease as a way of life that most would feel able to subscribe to, yet without the revolution of Christianity this very concept would not be so ingrained within our consciousness.

Without doubt I need real help from God to be someone whose love for neighbour pushes me out of my stereotypes, judgements and fears and leads me to see the face of Christ in the people I least expect Him to be present.

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