People's lives were such a mess! Evil was everywhere! Typical moral standards were sickening! Those who considered themselves "experts" in scripture were certain they were "superior" to most other people. People who knew the attitudes and lives of these "experts" had no desire to be like them. If the "experts" represented God, people who knew nothing about scripture wanted nothing to do with the God of the "experts."

The world was such a complicated place! Those who devoutly declared they belonged to the living God (1) lived in isolation and (2) looked at everyone else with contempt. They honored one God in a world that acknowledged many gods. Though they were a small minority, they considered themselves to be extremely important. "Outsiders" could be accepted if the "outsiders" agreed to live exactly as the community lived.

The majority of the world believed in, accepted, and worshipped many gods. This group of people built temples, maintained priesthoods, and conducted sacrificial worship. They were confident the gods controlled every aspect of life. Most of them also believed the objective of worship was to keep the gods happy. Many of them felt a deep sense of contempt for anyone who believed there was only one God. Believing only one God existed was dangerous to society, to political stability, and to economic opportunity!

There were also those people "who just had it" with religion. They did not believe in any god. Ineffective gods exploited ignorant people while changing nothing!

Moral conditions were horrible! Adultery was so common in Roman society that ineffective civil laws were passed to attempt to curb that problem. Divorce was common. Some brides were accused of wearing out their wedding veils! Homosexuality was common in Greek society. Drunkenness was a part of some religious fellowships. Greed, dishonesty, stealing, and injustice were merely a part of daily existence.

Slaves were helpless! They faced each day knowing they did not control their lives or activities. Owners often considered their slaves as opportunities for sexual gratification. For slaves, saying "no" to an owner was not an option.

Violence was terrible! One never knew when soldiers would fight on their farm! One never knew when his family would be caught in the middle of a violent conflict! Thieves were so bad that (1) you did not travel at night and (2) you secured your home as best you could at sunset. For many, the first century was a cruel, unjust world!

It was in this age and world that Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. It was in this world that Jesus became Lord and Christ. It was to this age that Jesus brought forgiveness, redemption, hope, and peace. It was a wicked world, but what God accomplished in Jesus Christ was effective! IT STILL IS!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 15 December 2002

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