Bring What You Will

When given the job of overseeing a study hall today, I borrowed a Sketches from Church History from my pastor’s shelves. It was perfect for the time I had with the students. I told them that they could study anything they wanted. But if they were bad, I would read to them “The Rise of the Papacy” chapter. Wonder of wonders! They were good.

As the title indicates, each chapter is a sketch of a certain time period. During the first four chapters, the author covers the early Church, the Martyrs, Constantine the Great, and the Church Fathers. That’s a lot of material to cover in 45 minutes, but even with several distractions, I finished all but a few pages of those chapters.

One of the most inspirational sections was chapter two. In this section about early Christian martyrs, the author records the events preceding the martyrdom of Polycarp. Read this entry from page 18, and consider your own dedication to Christ.

The usual test applied to Christians was that they must call Caesar, the emperor, “Lord,” as if he were a divine person. Refusal to do so meant the death sentence. Taken before the Roman consul, Polycarp was required to say, on oath, that he venerated Caesar in this way. But he was firm in his refusal.

“I have wild beasts,” said the consul. “If you refuse I will throw you to them.”

“Send for them,” replied Polycarp.

“If you despise the wild beasts I will send you to the fire,” said the consul. “Swear and I will release you: curse the Christ.”

“Eighty and six years have I served Christ,” replied Polycarp, “and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who has saved me? You threaten the fire that burns for an hour and then is quenched. But you know not of the fire of the judgment to come, and the fire of the eternal punishment. Bring what you will.”