In 313 A.D. the Roman emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan; a pronouncement that declared Christianity was to be tolerated and protected as a religion under the Roman government. For the first 300 years of the church, Christians were either outcasts (at best) or a heavily persecuted group. It was far from being a convenient time to be a Christian; converting to the faith often meant giving up your family, your job, your way of life, and even your community – all to follow this crucified carpenter from Nazareth.
During these first few centuries of the Church people often converted to Christianity not only because of the gospel message they heard but also because of the gospel mercy and compassion they experienced. Christians were known to have cared for orphans when no one else would, to have taken in widows when Roman society said they no longer had value, and to have rescued discarded babies from the trash heaps to raise them as their own.
Christians pushed back against the immorality of their day not through boycotts and public protest but by displaying a positive Christian ethic in their homes and communities. For example, sexual slavery and prostitution was at the center of ancient Greco-Roman culture. One of the most reliable ways to tell when a local region had become Christianized is when they decided that sexual slavery was unjust – not because of a moral majority who took over the government, but because people were forsaking their idols to follow Christ. Christianity is at its best when it shows people a better way to find their satisfaction: in Jesus.