Stark writes that the growth of the Church in the first centuries of its existence was due to the tangible benefits that those who turned to the Church received. The Jesus Movement was an urban phenomenon (p106), where there were incredible social issues to be dealt with (not unlike today) including Housing, filth, crime, and disease issues.
"In the midst of the squalor, misery, illness, and anonymity of ancient cities, Christianity provided an island of mercy and security. Foremost was the Christian duty to alleviate want and suffering...In contrast, in the pagan world, and especially among the philosophers, mercy was regarded as a character defect and pity as a pathological emotion: because mercy involves providing unearned help or relief, it is contrary to justice...This was the moral climate in which Christianity taught that mercy is one of the primary virtues - that a merciful God requires humans to be merciful." - Stark, TC, p112.
Jesus said, "blessed are the merciful," and this is the characteristic of those who are loved by Christ. May it be so more and more.