“Different is as different does.” If we truly believe in the resurrection, then we will hold loosely to the things of this world.
24:10 If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength!
The early Christians didn’t have the luxury of a government that cared for their rights. In fact, the government was against them for 300 years until Constantine made Christianity legal. A little known fact is that Rome was a bad environment for Christians, but Alexandria, Egypt, was much worse throughout the second and third centuries. Most of the games in the arena where Christians were used as sport took place in Alexandria. Here is one such example:
On March 7, 203, “the proconsul Hilarianus scheduled a public event–a day of games and spectacles to be performed in the city’s amphitheater to celebrate the birthday of the emperor’s son, Caesar Geta.
Gladiators were expensive, of course, but criminals were cheap*.”
According to Britannica.com, there was a 21 (or 22) year-old prisoner named Perpetua who was a Christian. Recently married and more recently a mother, she and four of her friends had been arrested for their conversion to Christianity. The interesting thing is that another of her friends voluntarily joined them. The six were tried, refused to renounce their faith, and were condemned to death in the arena. Perpetua’s dearest friend, Felicity, was very pregnant, but wasn’t due. They prayed fervently, and she delivered two days before their execution. Their solidarity made a great impact upon the crowd and many came to believe because of the girls’ testimony. Learn more about Perpetua.
Revelation 12:10-12 that describes their bravery and devotion to Christ,
10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Messiah.
For the accuser of our brothers and sisters,
who accuses them before our God day and night,
has been hurled down.
11 They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death.
12 Therefore rejoice, you heavens
and you who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
because the devil has gone down to you!
He is filled with fury,
because he knows that his time is short.”
The church leader, Tertullian, helped people in his network to get ready for prison by means of fasting and other ascetic practices**. How could they do such a thing? Because they BELIEVED in the resurrection. It wasn’t something in the distant future for them, but a present reality.
What would happen if Christ’s church today believed in the resurrection like our early church followers? Could we let go of our wealth, health, and lifestyle for the sake of Jesus and His Bride? It’s a sobering question.
Abba, please rid us of anything and everything that comes between You and us. May our lives be different enough so that people will be attracted to Christ. Help us to know how to be different for You. Amen.
*”The Patient Ferment of the Early Church” pg. 44
** Ibid, pg. 50