The Early Church’s reputation for the way they loved each other and even those outside of the church stunned the Roman Empire that controlled a vast majority of the known world. Because the early church loved others, they risked their very lives to care for plague victims when nobody else would in the third century. Because the early church loved others, they gained the notice of Roman soldiers for tending to widows of both Christians and Romans. Because the early church loved each other, they were able to support each other even though they were strangers. Because the early church loved each other, they would come together at a common meal. The Early Church understood that love was a word with many meanings.
Agape – The self-sacrificing love of God for humanity which Christians ought to be known for giving to each other and others. It also came to be the name of a feast which the church would come together to share.
Eros – The marital love a husband and wife share.
Storge – The familial love between a parent and a child or shared between two friends.
Philia – The brotherly love that is also genuinely liking people, not neccessarily liking people as if they were your brother.
Of course while the Greek had four words for love, we have only one word that means all of these things. We have the love that serves us down. It’s our specialty. But we have a failing grade on the love that asks us to serve others. Do you love the elders of your church enough to keep them company for a few hours each day? Do you love the youth of your church enough to see to it that they get good grades? Do you love the college kids of your church enough to do a laundry ministry? Do you love the couples of your church enough to babysit for them? Would you do the same for the elders, the youth, the college kids, and the couples who are outside the church? How then, can you hope to help the homeless, alcoholics, addicts, drop-outs, run-aways, morally bankrupt, etc. if all you do is show up to church on Sunday?
Much of what the Early Church was known for we would call charity. Chairity invovled making meals, tending to the sick, and doing whatever needed done out of a sincere love for everybody inside and out of the church. They could not seperate their love for others and the charity they would do for them. Today some people start charities, but the only investment others asked to make is a financial contribution. I would say that it is hardly charity. Anybody can write a check or put all of their change in a canister by the cash register. It takes a dedicated soul to choose to spend two hours at the elderly home over two hours at the movie theatre. It takes a loving person to give their time and themself to their cause. The early Christians had only one cause, love for everybody. We need to put our hearts into our charities and resume that old cause.