NOTE: If you are reading this, please note that this devotional was first written for a group of students in a class I was teaching on Living Life on Mission. If you find yourself wondering about a statement that may not make sense, it could be because there is context to it that was only expressed to those students. If you have any questions at all, please comment at the end of the article.
Last week we learned that Christianity started in the midst of persecution. According to Acts 1:8 – in that day a great persecution broke. This persecution was the painful start of a new “Religion” in the Roman empire, in the land of Palestine, in the midst of the Hellenistic culture.
However, this persecution, though painful since it lasted more than 400 years, was a blessing – for it caused people to gather. An untamed gathering that gave way for conversations about the resurrection of Jesus. Since people of the “new race” – which was the title given to new Christians when they first started – could not gather in a single building, amongst others with the same belief, they found unique ways to spread the message of Christianity without being taken to prison, or even killed. Some of those gathering ways were to eat in public squares with others, visit each other’s home, join people’s trading journeys, etc. Staying true to the commission of Jesus to his followers; as you go, make disciples.
These first Christians had no Bible as we have it now, even though they had the “scriptures”, it wasn’t an established “scripture” base, rather it was more of a “if this scripture helps me, I will read, if this other doesn’t help me, I won’t read”. However, they would draw strength and belief from the testimony of others.
In this context, we find Christianity flourishing throughout the Roman empire. Simple gatherings, conversations, and testimonies would give way to a whole new religion, still true and strong till’ this day.
The reason why I say all this is because I believe this introduction gives us a good context as to how we can define living a Life on Mission. Even though as a society, and as a people, we have evolved, in our thinking, reasoning, and doing, there are universal truths and wisdom that can still guide our spiritual walk today – over 2000 years later. To be able to live a Life on Mission, we need to define what Life is, and what the Mission is, and the early church, in the midst of persecution can help us understand these two components of our Christian walk.
— Napoleon Bonaparte quotes on Jesus:
“Well then, I will tell you. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne and I myself have founded great empires; but upon what did these creations of our genius depend? Upon force. Jesus alone founded His empire upon love, and to this very day millions will die for Him. . . . I think I understand something of human nature; and I tell you, all these were men, and I am a man; none else is like Him: Jesus Christ was more than a man. . . . I have inspired multitudes with such an enthusiastic devotion that they would have died for me . . . but to do this is was necessary that I should be visibly present with the electric influence of my looks, my words, of my voice. When I saw men and spoke to them, I lightened up the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. . . . Christ alone has succeeded in so raising the mind of man toward the unseen, that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space. Across a chasm of eighteen hundred years, Jesus Christ makes a demand which is beyond all others difficult to satisfy; He asks for that which a philosopher may often seek in vain at the hands of his friends, or a father of his children, or a bride of her spouse, or a man of his brother. He asks for the human heart; He will have it entirely to Himself. He demands it unconditionally; and forthwith His demand is granted. Wonderful! In defiance of time and space, the soul of man, with all its powers and faculties, becomes an annexation to the empire of Christ. All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable, supernatural love toward Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable; it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. This is it, which strikes me most; I have often thought of it. This it is which proves to me quite convincingly the Divinity of Jesus Christ.”