I was reading an ancient letter sent from the Roman official Pliny the Younger (AD 62-c.113) to the Roman Emperor Trajan written during about the year AD 112. This would have been the last year or in the last years of Pliny’s life. The letter is written concerning what is to be done with Christians. The letter explains that Christians were given a chance to recant their faith and worship other gods and the emperor in the presence of Roman officials or face punishment up to and often including death, because if nothing else, “their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy should certainly be punished.”
What struck me the most was this statement. “The contagion of this superstition has spread not only in the cities, but in the villages and rural districts as well; yet it seems capable of being checked and set right.” He goes on to explain why he believes folks were and would continue to return to the Roman system of worship. Less than one hundred years after Jesus was resurrected, the Christian movement was spreading at an alarming rate, yet the Romans believed it could be stopped.
And then here we stand 1900 years later as a testimony that it couldn’t. Millions of people have stood in the face of oppression and refused to back down on their belief that Jesus Christ lived, died, and lives again. They have faced ridicule, torture, and death. And Christ’s Church moves on and continues to grow. It continues to spread in the cities and it continues to spread to the most rural and secluded areas of the world.
This whole thing is bigger than you or me. It’s bigger than kidmin, student ministries, and even bigger than family ministry or Orange thinking. It goes way beyond the four walls of your church building or home. Jesus established a movement that could not, would not be stopped. It spread like wildfire in the cities and then it infected the villages and furthermost reaches of the world.
But does my faith do it justice? Is it contagious in the way that the faith of early Christians was contagious? Is it unshakeable and unstoppable like those guys? Or am I just in it because it is easy? Do I either intentionally or unintentionally teach the kids in my church that being a Christian is easy? Would I face death for this man Jesus? All of these questions run through my head. I only pray that my life brings glory to Jesus the way these early Christians brought glory to Him. I pray that my love for God and my love for others becomes infectious to those I lead and to those that I interact with in everyday life.
Serving Him together,
The letter referenced above was found in the book Documents of the Christian Church which was published by Oxford University Press. The book is a collection of writings throughout history that have had a significant impact on the shaping of Christian history.