When I read the accounts of the bombing and bulldozing of churches and monasteries in the Middle East – mainly in Iraq and Syria, but there have been others – and of the thousands of Christians kidnapped and slaughtered, I’m reminded of the Early Church.
Between the first persecution under Nero in 64 to the Edict of Milan in 313, Christians experienced 129 years of persecution. It’s unknown exactly how many Christians were killed during that time, but we can imagine the impact based on historical documents, inscriptions, and the catacombs.
It wasn’t easy being a Christian in the first three centuries.Share
Yet, they carried on. How?
They committed the Scriptures and traditions of the faith to memory and practiced in secret – homes, catacombs, hidden places. They communicated through symbols and supported one another in quiet, away from the eyes of the emperor and his henchmen (at least as much as was possible).
In much of the world, Christians still have the right, for the most part, to practice their faith and their churches still stand. But, what if that was to change? We’d be in the same predicament as the Early Church, and as the current Christians under persecution in the Middle East.
Perhaps we need to learn from them. (Read more.)