In this week’s Forward Today, Scott reflects on Perpetua, and the powerful inspiration of her testimony.
Dear friends in Christ,
Today the church remembers Perpetua and her Companions. Perpetua was a catechumen, not yet baptized, when she was summoned to appear before the Roman authorities. She refused to make a sacrifice in honor of the emperor. At a public hearing, she said, “I am a Christian.” She was sentenced to death, to be martyred in an arena by wild animals. She faced death bravely, urging those around her to remain steadfast in faith.
It might be tempting for us to read a story like this and think of it as little more than a fanciful legend. But it is more than that. For one thing, the blood of those martyrs, along with the blood of countless others, had the opposite effect from what the empire’s authorities wanted. From their witness, the church was made stronger. People were inspired by the way Christians faced death, clinging to their Savior and Lord Jesus Christ until the end.
In our world, today, there are Christians under threat. But it’s not just in places where martyrdom is a risk that our faith is at risk. Most Episcopalians are reasonably well off. We certainly do not face persecution for our faith. But there is another danger. It’s easy to make sacrifices to false gods. Do we worship the accumulation of wealth? Do we choose to remain silent while others suffer injustice? Do we treat our churches are social clubs rather than outposts of God’s kingdom? Do we honor power and might over love and sacrifice?
I know that I often fail to live the demanding life that Jesus Christ asks of me. I neglect opportunities to share my faith. I fail to give generously to those in need. I enjoy the comforts of the institutional church, which sometimes looks too much like the empire. Today, I am inspired and indicted by Perpetua’s simple and incredibly brave testimony. “I am a Christian.”
May we all stand ready to testify to our faith, whether it’s at our last day or in the quotidian choices we make too casually. Let us all say, when the time comes, “I am a Christian.”
Today’s featured sale item is a great one for Good Book Club fans: A Journey through Acts: The 50 Day Bible Challenge. Just $11.25, today only!
To get future reflections from Scott in your inbox, subscribe to Forward Today.