I have heard, on occasion, my beloved mother make what some would call cold and cynical remarks, such as, “The whole world is going to hell in a handbasket!” and “It’s a sign of the times!.” Such sayings used to keep me up at night, worrying that my happy life might one day be turned upside-down. I feared the reality of the “most certain” future. To look at the world and its declining morality, one may say she’s right. The world doesn’t seem to be headed in a good direction, or any that would give peace to a conservative Christian—especially in the United States’ post-churched society. So it would be easy to say she’s right.
But then I think. What of the faithful? What of love? Hope? Redemption? Repentance? Over and over in the old testament, when the Israelites had directly disobeyed and offended God—even when their future looked bleak—God was faithful. He left a remnant of true believers to repopulate and subdue.
So what of today’s circumstances? Are these the times John describes in his Revelation? The world IS bad, but there is good still in it. In fact, society today, though rampant with unbelief and debauchery, is not so different from that of ancient Rome. Last summer, I finished a series of Christian Fiction novels entitled The Mark of the Lion. The book depicts the life of Hadassah, a follower of Christ in the new church called the Way, and the persecution she faces while living in Rome at the peak of the empire. Hadassah fears for her life amidst a society that martyrs Christians in the arenas for sport.
Martyrdom. Something changed inside me as I read these novels that is hard to articulate. Aside from being drawn to the Lord and into his Word, I have changed the way I view persecution. At one time, I thought it an obligation to face it. Now, as I sit here, I fear it and long for it at the same time.
I wonder if I were living in first-century Rome as a Christian, if I would have the zeal and the fervor of the saints. I question whether or not I would give my life as so many martyrs did. And I think, is there any greater witness than giving your life for what you believe? Than giving your life as a symbol for Christ?
And yet, there may be. LIVING. Living your life as a symbol of Christ. Living a life worthy of the calling—the life that God, from the beginning of time, desired for you to live to be fulfilled in Him. The life that is, ultimately, a changed one.