In Daniel 2 we are told the Babylonian emperor, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream in which he saw a giant statue in the image of a man. A stone (made without hands) hit the statue and crushed it. The stone then became a great mountain which filled the whole earth.
Daniel gave the divine interpretation of the dream. The huge image of a man made of gold, silver, bronze, and iron represented four successive kingdoms (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek, and Roman). In the days of the Roman Empire, we are told, "the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever."
But the crushing of the Kingdom of Man was not done by force of arms. It was done by the Gospel transforming lives, and eventually transforming paganism from the inside out. David Bentley Hart describes the wondrous nature of this work of divine grace--long ago foretold by Daniel.
It is . . . probably wise to recall that the Christians of the early centuries won renown principally for their sobriety, peacefulness, generosity, loyalty to their spouses, care for the poor and the sick, and ability, no matter what their social station, to exhibit virtues--self-restraint, chastity, forbearance, courage--that pagan philosophers frequently extolled but rarely practiced with comparable fidelity.
And these Christians brought something new into the ancient world: a vision of the good without precedent in pagan society, a creed that prescribed charitable services to others as a religious obligation, a story about a God of self-outpouring love. In long retrospect the wonder of this new nation within the empire is not that so many of its citizens could not really live by the ideals of their faith, nor even simply that so many could, but that anyone could even have imagined such ideal in the first place.
Even the emperor Julian, who was all too conscious of the hypocrisies of which Christians were often capable, was forced to lament, in a letter to a pagan priest, "It is a disgrace that these impious Galilaeans care not only for the own poor but for ours as well." David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009) p. 45.