Pastor’s Pen: Loyal subjects

By Layton Dutton Associate Pastor of Youth Calvary Baptist Church Evart

During the time when the Roman Empire had reached its peak and was beginning to show signs of weakness on its borders, the emperor at the time declared an edict that everyone needed to appease the gods by offering a sacrifice.

This sacrifice was a requirement and failure to do so would result in severe consequences, including a painful death. This caused a controversy in the minds of Christians who now had to choose whether to be loyal subjects to the emperor or loyal subjects to their God. Some chose to offer the sacrifice and hope God would forgive them. Others bribed officials to obtain documents saying they had offered sacrifices.

Many fled to the hostile wilderness struggling to survive the elements and the barbarians that would attack unprotected civilians. But there were many Christians who suffered for their faith. These believers were tortured, imprisoned and even killed.* Eusebius of Caesarea had this to say about them:

“… I am struck with wonder at their all-enduring courage, at their confession under many forms, and at the wholesome alacrity (readiness) of their souls, the elevation of their minds, the open profession of their faith, the clearness of their reason, the patience of their condition, and the truth of their religion; how they were not cast down in their minds, but their eyes looked upwards, and they neither trembled nor feared. The love of God also, and of His Christ, supplied them with an all-effective power, by which they overcame their enemies. For they loved God, the supreme sovereign of all, and they loved Him with all their might.” **

God tells us to “Love Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind” (Luke 10:27). These people in the past showed us the results of that love. Even in the most horrific of times, when their very lives were on the line, they stood firm, prepared to honor their God with every fiber of their being. We are told this in Hebrews 12:1-2:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”

There will be times when following God will not be easy. Temptation, ridicule, trials and weariness will all be realities along the journey. But there are those who went before, endured and were victorious, including Jesus Christ. Go faithfully forward in following God today. Do so with joy, knowing you are serving the King of kings.

* Historical Account from Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire by The History Channel

** From History of the Martyrs in Palestine by Eusebius