Imagine as Christ’s church our having to meet in secret because of persecution. We tend to trivialize the notion in our Western worldview but the reality is that much of the church of both the past and present was/is forced to gather together in secrecy for the valid fear of oppression (either by government or society and culture). The first century church and Christians today in Muslim and Communist countries have much in common.
Beneath the city of Rome lies six hundred miles of “catacombs.” The catacombs are underground burial places where Christians often met for worship and fellowship. For the almost three hundred years after Christ, Christians sought asylum in this underground maze of tunnels beneath Rome seeking to worship God in community with one another and as they were in constant fear of Roman violence.
In these underground tunnels a common inscription has been repeatedly found. Many recognize the symbol as the Jesus or Christian fish (the Greek word ichthus means “fish”) but it served as an early acrostic, which stood for: “Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Savior.” (I avoid acrostics at all costs in preaching – but this one I have to let slide….) What we have as magnets on the back of our luxury SUV’s originally served as a ray of hope in caverns of darkness (physically and spiritually) for the early church.
I wonder about our investment of the Christian life. If in our ease of worship and ease of faith we aren’t crippled in our commitment. Not that I’m praying for persecution. But in times of oppression in the church’s history valiant faith has abounded. Why? Because it forced our hand whether we were in with both feet or not.
Luke records these words of our Savior: “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to” (Luke 13:24).
We’re tempted to think that Jesus is talking about “them.” I think it’s about us….
Steadfastness. Dedication. Investment. An investment of self. An investment of life. We are too often too easily derailed.
We tend to take lightly the things we have not wholly invested in. The things we’re not completely committed to. The same is especially true of faith. For this reason Christ calls us to make every effort.
Glory to God!