The Roman Road and Hospitality at Its Best
by Bobby Bruno 3/21/2014 / Christian Living
Before the Romans built roads travel was at best slow. If the ground was dry and hard, walking and riding in a horse-drawn cart was faster and less messy. But if it had rained, or was raining, feet and wheels got bogged down in the mire of mud and water making travel time longer and the journey more miserable. Having no roads meant that the spread of Christianity took longer, too.
How marvelous were these roads, and what was the impact on the spread of Christianity once they were built? J. D. Spalding (2006) in his article entitled "Spreading the Word Starting in Rome." from Science and Spirit Journal says that "By the timed Paul stopped persecuting Jesus' followers and became their visionary leader, Rome had paved roughly 53,000 miles of superbly built, well-drained, well-protected roads." The well-protected roads were protected by the Roman army, which help to curb the incidents of robbery and even murder of those who only wanted to get to their next destination alive and unharmed. This made it possible for Paul to send all the mail he wanted to, in any area that these roads extended to. J. D. Spalding goes on to say, in the same article, that "The Roman roads may have been technology's greatest contribution to the spread of Christianity until 1455, when Johannes Gutenberg created the first Bible using movable type."
In an article entitled "How Christianity Spread in the Roman Empire", author Rohiranna Wilfelise says that "Roads led from Rome to every part of its dominion. Travel was made, if not easy, at least not impossible. This ease of communication made it possible for disciples to spread the Christian message all over the ancient world." Without the protection of the huge Roman army along these roads, getting to your destination was problematic at best. Robbers, thieves, and murderers seemed to find many places along the old routes to hide and ambush their prey. Travelers walked along in fear of their lives. But the Roman army put a stop to all of this crime. With confidence, travelers could now walk along knowing that Roman soldiers were not too far away to help when danger came along. Now that travel was faster, easier, and much safer, the spread of Christianity grew and grew. Paul's letters could reach more hands to be read by more eyes and ears thanks to the Roman Empire spending the money to build their road system.
Christian hospitality is unlike any other, for Christians have been known to entertain angels (Gen. 18:1-15/Heb. 13:2), and even the risen Jesus Christ (Lk. 24:28-35) made Himself known to two strangers on the road to Emmaus. Unfortunately, Christians and non-Christians have been known to unknowingly entertain evil spirits as well as Satan himself. Jesus put forth the rule of hospitality when He said "Love your neighbor as you love yourself" (Mk 12:31/GW). Jesus then emphasized this principle when asked who our neighbor was gave the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:30-35). According to Jesus our neighbor is everyone and anyone we come in contact with in our daily lives.
What helped to spur on Christian hospitality in the early church was the establishment of home meetings. No longer did Christians have to hang around the Temple to sing and give praise to Jesus they could know do these things from the comfort of their own homes. This also gave believers the opportunity to discover what the needs of the church and the community were so that these needs could be fulfilled quickly. People in the early church sold land, possessions, houses and such to fund the money needed to meet these needs because they felt that Jesus had given them so much by dying for their sins that giving back this love had to be done. Andrew Arterbury (2007), in his article entitled "Entertaining Angels: Hospitality in Luke and Acts" states that "For most early Christians, an absence of hospitality would mean an absence of love for God and neighbor" (p. 22).
This hospitality also helped to change the way the Jewish converts looked at Gentiles. Arterbury again states that "the custom of hospitality functions as the prism through which Jewish Christians are able to see Gentile converts in a new wayno longer as "profane or unclean," but rather as covenant partners in the community of Christians" (p. 25). This meant that being hospitable to another person was doing more than just giving a hot meal or helping to pay their rent, it also meant that each Christian must see each other as a child of God; no other "labels" can we saddle another believer with other than brother or sister in Christ.
To be hospitable in the right way is to be like Jesus Christ. Martha's head was in the right place that day she prepared a meal for Jesus Jesus did need to eat -- but Mary's heart was right where it should have been in Jesus' hands to use as He wished. Being hospitable is to never forget that we must do for others as Jesus has done for us. We must sacrifice all we have if need be to see that someone in need is taken care of and loved. We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves, just as the early church did for theirs.
Bobby Bruno was saved 15 years ago in a way that left him no doubt that Jesus wanted him to reach others with His great and abounding love. He started writing at the age of 12 and hasn't stopped since. He achieved Associates Degree in Biblical Studies from Ohio Christian University in early 2014.