About 133 AD Aristeides, a teacher of philosophy, presented a defense of Christianity to Emperor Hadrian. From it we get a glimpse of what the early Christians were like and why the church grew the way it did, like wildfire, in those early centuries. O, Lord give us the mantle of these early saints!
Christ died and was buried; and they say that after three days He rose and ascended to heaven; and then these twelve disciples went forth into all the kingdoms of the word, telling of his greatness with all humility and sobriety; whence they who still serve the righteousness of his preaching are called Christians, who are well known…
Now the Christians, O King…have the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ himself graven on their hearts, and they observe, looking for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. They commit neither adultery nor fornication; nor do they bear false witness. They do not deny a deposit, nor covet other men’s goods; they honor father and mother, and love their neighbors; they give right judgment; and they do not worship idols in the form of man. They do not unto others that which they should not have done unto themselves. They comfort such as wrong them, and make friends of them. They labor to do good to their enemies: (they are meek and gentle) … As for their servants or handmaids, or their children if any of them has any, they persuade them to become Christians for the love that they have towards them; and when they have become so, they call them without distinction “brethren.”
They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan. He that hath distributeth liberally to him that hath not. If they see a stranger, they bring him under their roof, and rejoice over him, as it were their own brother: for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the spirit and in God … And if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his needs, and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they deliver him.
And if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessities, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food. For Christ’s sake they are ready to lay down their lives. (Taken from J. Stevenson, A New Eusebius, pp. 56-57)
So it was spread abroad, “Behold how they love one another.” What shall we be known for? Let it be that we are willing to die for Christ, and even more, that we are willing to live for him in loving his people. They fasted so that they would have more to give to the needy! Which means they did not have a lot stored up. O Lord, help us see and show Christ as they did.