The early church had an impact on their culture. Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world…” He was speaking about the influence of kingdom people on the world.
There was a Roman historian named Pliny the Younger. He constantly wrote letters to the Emperor of Rome whose name was Trajan. He lived near the end of the first century and into the second century. We know from his writings that Christians refused to worship Emperor Trajan nor would they curse Jesus Christ even under the threat of extreme torture.
He wrote that Christians were “in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day (Sunday) before it was light, when they sang in alternate verse a hymn to Christ as to a god…” He also wrote that the Christians were spreading like wildfire in his province (he had become governor of Pontus and Bithynia) and had become a social and economic problem. He said, “The pagan temples were closing down for lack of customers, the sacred festivals were becoming deserted, and the demand for sacrificial animals had ceased.” Pliny executed those who admitted their allegiance to Jesus.
He said he had misgivings about it because they were such good people. He wrote, “Their lives were exemplary. You would not find fraud, adultery, theft, or dishonesty among them. And at their common meal they ate food of an ordinary and innocent kind.” (This last part was a reference to Holy Communion).
I think Sunday sports leagues for kids would die out if Christian parents refused to have their kids participate. What we see happening around us is an indicator of the influence of the world on Christians in subtle ways. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if people in the world would say we are affecting our culture and then say we are also living exemplary lives?
Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”