In 64 A.D., the psychopathic Roman emperor Nero blamed a great fire in Rome on a growing group of individuals called the Christians. These falsely accused were followers of a man who had been crucified about 3 decades prior for claiming to be the Son of God. Nero needed someone to blame and the Christians seemed to be an easy target. He had many of them tarred and burned alive on stakes to act as human torches for homebound Roman soldiers. Their only means of escaping death was to deny Jesus Christ as the Lord of all they claimed He was. Their refusal to do so converted many to the faith. It was a terrifying experience even for the citizens of Rome who were used to being entertained by death and violence.
What kept these early Christians from giving in? Imagine someone storming your workplace, home or even church and pointing a gun to your head. Would you be willing to do the same? Many elsewhere in the world still do today. Why?
The answer lies in a deep decision for Christ that was made beforehand. Without it, they never could have stood amidst persecution. This decision, however, infiltrated the rest of their lives, even in facing death.
The reason many Christians constantly struggle with sin in their lives is because of this same decision. Christianity is some religion that they attach to their life like a country club membership. Jesus doesn’t ask to just be a part of your life. He wants the whole thing. Lord means ruler.
For these early followers, Christ was the center. Only when our focus is there will the rest fall into place. Then we’ll be less likely to fall because our desire will be to avoid slippery places. The early Christians understood this… and nothing else mattered… not what other’s thought or did, only Jesus. If called upon, they were even willing to die. Would you be?
Scott A. Hescht
Psalm 22 Ministries