A Better Welfare State

Welfare – on seeking a better way to care for those in need.

“[Christianity] has been specially advanced through the loving service rendered to strangers, and through their care for the burial of the dead. It is a scandal that there is not one single Jew who is a beggar, and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but for ours as well; while those who belong to us look in vain for the help that we should render them.”

– Emperor Julian, circa 362 CE

History records this quote as being attributed to Julian, “the Apostate” as he was called; because after becoming a Christian, he soon turned away from it to revert back to worshipping the ancient pagan gods of Rome. But as Julian was a governor over the people of Rome, and therefore, was essentially the most powerful person in his day, his influence carried a lot of weight in the world. Much like the President of the United States today, he had much power and influence in the world, and so when he spoke, the people listened. So it is very interesting that when faced with the ills and problems of those under his rule in his own society, Julian was dumbfounded by what he saw in these “peculiar people” (his own words), known as the people of the Way (or the people of the cross). They showed remarkable hospitality (a love for strangers, people that they did not personally know) and care for the burial of the dead (which I think refers to caring for those who could not afford to bury their own family members and friends). But the biggest scandal of all according to Julian, was how these Christians cared for the poor. They not only cared for their own, but for those who did not believe in the same God that they did. Rather than looking to the government for support, the church was the primary means of mercy ministry and welfare in those days. Welfare means seeking the good of those around you. I wonder, what would it take today, for the church to once again be known for caring for the welfare of others in such a way, that it would be called scandalous by those in institutions of law and government.

“Lord Jesus, show us the true and better way for caring for those who have not, for we give thanks that when we had not (had nothing spiritually), you came, and became poor Yourself for our sake, so that we might become rich in You. Grant to us the measure of Your grace to go forth, and to do likewise.”


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Riverside Community Church
Sundays at 10:30 am
311 Old Mill Road
Cartersville, Ga 30120
(470) 315-2344

Riverside Community Church is a mission church of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)