Faith in a Time of Persecution…
When describing your faith, what would others say about you?
“First, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is heralded throughout the world.” -Romans 1:8, NAB
The world was much different during the time of early Christians. For many of us, especially those living in Western cultures, professing our faith outwardly and openly is not a problem. We do not face any real danger from confidently speaking about our Christian beliefs. For the early Christians, like those in Rome, things were much, much different. If they openly spoke about their faith, they faced imprisonment, torture, and even death. We should feel blessed that we can live without that fear.
Not only did the Romans overcome their fear by openly expressing their faith, they were well known for the strength of their faith. As Paul states, their “faith is heralded throughout the world.” Few of us today are on that same level. How many people do you know that have that type of faith? Even without the fear of persecution, we still cannot seem to muster that kind of faith, and that is the truly sad part. We face far fewer obstacles, but at times, it seems like our measure of faith could not hold a candle to that of the early Christians.
If our faith is this weak without any obstacles, what would we do if we did face obstacles? In the face of persecution, would we stand firm in our faith? Threatened with imprisonment, torture, or death, would we still be bold Catholics as we are today? I’ve seen people abandon their faith and belief system because of money worries and family drama. Surely, if they are so quick to abandon their faith in these small trials, they will definitely abandon it when they face real obstacles.
On our own, we cannot overcome much, yet, somehow, the early Christians seemed to overcome so much more than us. What was their secret? Paul wrote about it often. We must give our lives over to Christ, wholly and completely. We cannot hold anything back. If you want the type of faith that can move mountains, then you have to realize that you will never move any mountain – only with the help of Christ will you ever move a single pebble. Stop trying to do things your way, and start doing things His way. Give your life wholly and completely over to Christ, and your faith will be heralded throughout the world.