There is a famous saying,
"When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do."
Did you know that the early Christians
refused to live by that saying?
This page will explain how they refused
this page will lead you
to the question:
What will you - as a Christian -
choose to do
as our society embraces paganism?
The first Christians lived in a world dominated by Rome.
early Christians never adopted the philosophy:
“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
On the contrary,
they courageously stood against that pagan society.
They would NOT compromise.
The early Christians in Rome had to deal with incredible peer pressure. They courageously chose not to participate in the activities sponsored by the community.
Christians refused to go to Club Meetings
club had a god that the club sacrificed to and honored. The clubs frequently met in a god’s
temple. So Christians did not join clubs.
Christians refused to go to Sporting Events
They avoided them for
Reason 1 - Sacrifices to the gods
event began with a sacrifice to at least one god.
Reason 2 - Competing in the nude
The Greeks, who are believed to have
essentially begun the concept of sporting events, used their love of the human
body and their immoral minds to produce the practice of competing in sporting
events while in the nude or close to it.
For those two reasons, the
Christians and the Jews
of the Roman Empire
shunned sporting events.
Note that there were Olympic Games at this time in history. These games began with elaborate ceremonies to honor the god Zeus, king of the Greek gods. Zeus received sacrifices from the people on the first day of the games. The adoration of Zeus and the nudity of the athletes were both deemed to be unacceptable to the early Christians.
In present day, the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games celebrate paganism.
Christians were absent from Town Parades
Peer pressure also focused on Christians because of their refusal to participate in the town parades.
At least once a year, the whole town was ordered to participate in a huge parade. Everyone was ordered to march in the parade.
Purification ceremonies and prayer preceded these parades, just as in all public meetings.
Then the procession of town's people marched to a designated spot. The crowd watched as an animal was sacrificed to a pagan god, and the blood was poured over one or more pagan priests.
Anyone refusing to participate in the parade and its
ceremonies was thought to have angered the gods against the whole town. Thus, any drought, pestilence, earthquake,
storm, etc. was thought to be caused by one or more gods punishing the town for
the lack of total participation. Consequently, lack of participation resulted in hostile actions by the people of the town toward the Christians.
Christians Refused to have Statues
Statues of gods
Every house in Rome was decorated in a similar manner. All homes had statues (large and small) of gods.
Generally, each family had a statue of the god of their town. Then, each family added statues based on their own preferences. For example, parents gave each child to a specific god at birth. The god would then "protect" the child and help insure that the child reached adulthood. Therefore, the family would have a statue to represent the god of each child.
The size and beauty of the statues depended on the wealth of the family. Lack of statues showed disrespect to the gods. Therefore, Romans shunned Christians for their lack of statues.
Christians wouldn't worship Caesar
All Citizens must worship Caesar
The early Christians also had to deal with the Roman authorities. For one thing, the Roman government demanded that everyone worship the Caesar as a god.
Here, the Roman authorities had no problem with Christians adding Jehovah God to the list of honored gods. Someone adding a god to the list of gods did not threaten the Roman culture. However, the Romans vehemently opposed the concept of subtraction. For example, failure to literally bow down to Caesar resulted in the death of many Christians.
Early Christians made very difficult choices.
Because of their choices, they were sometimes: beheaded, covered with pitch and used as torches for parties, torn apart by wild dogs, thrown in the Colosseum with lions, etc.
When they were not killed, they were: talked about unfairly, lied about, punished for natural disasters, laughed at, and ostracized.
My imagination can clearly hear
the ungodly Romans say,
“Those Christians won’t even go to a little club meeting.”
The worst persecution of Christians occurred under Diocletian. However, it is darkest before the dawn. The next Caesar after Diocletian had a miraculous conversion to Christianity. His name was Constantine. He began to rule around 312 A.D. He demanded that the persecution of Christians cease. Even though Constantine never matured in his faith in Jesus, his leadership resulted in the end of Roman persecution against Christianity.
What about Christians today?
How do Christians today measure up
to those early Christians?
Do we keep our convictions in the face of being laughed at, talked about unfairly, and ostracized?
Do we change our values as society changes its values?
Do we judge a movie by God’s standards or
do we justify nudity and immoral behavior as acceptable?
Do we turn away from dark, occultic entertainment
or embrace it?
Do we fear man or do we fear God?
Are we bold in our beliefs or have we become lukewarm?
Each of us must affirm or deny the following philosophy:
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.