Lessons From an Ancient Civilization

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

– Philippians 4:3,4

We talked yesterday about showing radical mercy and what that looks like in our modern world. Today, I want to invite you to journey with me into how that played out in the first century church, amid the injustice of the Roman Empire.

In the ancient world, patricians, senators, and the wealthy were at the top of the heap and everyone else fell into a class beneath them, with slaves at the very bottom. Because there was so much inequality in that day, the Spirit of Jesus, working through the Church, took the culture by storm. Though their castes were different in the eyes of society, when they came together as brothers and sisters in Christ, newly reborn senators were hugging slaves, serving them communion, and washing their feet — this was something that no one had ever heard of! In an empire where orphans were thrown out on the street, the elderly were abandoned, and the sick were euthanized, the Church emerged as a community that said give us everyone. In Jesus, no one was marginalized, and this is why historians often point to the Church as being the force that undid the Roman Empire from the inside out. It’s hard to imagine that one of the greatest civilizations in history was so shallow that it could be brought down by a community that simply decided to love their enemies and care for outcasts, and yet it was!

Friend, the same power that helped bring the Roman world to ruin is available to you today when you choose to embrace the equality and dignity of every human being and to see them through the eyes of Christ! If you are tempted to glory in your job, your position, your title, or your wealth, I urge you to make a decision to consider the least of these as greater than yourself. Wash the feet of the one who is “beneath” you and watch as the world is turned upside down and transformed by your choice!


Jesus, help me to become the kind of person who changes the world with radical love for those around me, especially the ones society says are “beneath” me.


How can you wash the feet of someone who is “beneath” you in society’s eyes?

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