As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
In the later centuries of the Roman Empire—and the early centuries of the Christian era—the once-proud empire suffered a series of setbacks. Wars, waves of invasion by Germanic tribes, and devastating epidemics led to a fractured, failing society.
In the face of terrible conditions, political elites and their non-Christian priests fled the cities. The only functioning social network left was the church, which provided basic nursing care to Christians and non-Christians alike, along with hope that transcended death. Even pagans acknowledged that early Christians were as kind to their neighbors as they would be to family. What made the church so powerful during that time was not artful persuasion but serving others with love.
The world is much different today, of course, but we have similar opportunities to show kindness to others. Think about the Asian tsunami of 2004 and Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005. Our nation responded to both catastrophes. But in many instances the church was the vehicle through which help continued to arrive. Christ-followers wanted to make a difference in others' lives, simply for the sake of sharing love. The influence of such acts of kindness is immeasurable. As history shows, entire cultures can change as a result of the Christian community practicing the love of Christ.
Thank you, Lord, for using things as simple as acts of kindness to point people to you.