Last week we had a mid week open porch which featured a documentary on Charles Spurgeon. He was a great pastor, with a deep heart for the Gospel and deeper heart to reach others during the Victorian era in England.
We could learn a lot from some of the men and women of faith who have gone before us, and I’d like to share their stories here for the unforeseeable future. I’ve watched a few documentaries and movies based on the lives of some past Saints, some I’ve known about previously, some I had only heard of their names. But a shared character trait in each is something that we’d be most benefited to learn from- perseverance.
In past discussions here we’ve talked about persecution and martyrs, wondering if it should come to us in America when we face severe persecution as other Christians around the world suffer. While we’ve admitted fear at the thought of it, after all no one desires or goes looking for persecution or the chance to be a martyr for our faith, but the more I learn about those who have been killed for their faith in Christ, I am convinced that not only does the Holy Spirit give the believer words to say before rulers, but covers those who are sent to their death with peace and courage that truly is beyond our comprehension.
“Eighty and six years have I served Christ, nor has He ever done me any harm. How, then, could I blaspheme my King who saved Me?….I bless Thee for deigning me worthy of this day and this hour that I may be among Thy martyrs and drink the cup of my Lord Jesus Christ.”
For those who’ve ever read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, that quote and this first story won’t be new to you. But for those who don’t know, Polycarp was one of the last, if not the last of his time to have actually studied under one of the disciples who knew Jesus; John (the Beloved). Polycarp lived in the 2nd century, was Bishop of Smyrna, and spent his time preaching, teaching and diligently copying scrolls of John and other works and sending them out to Christians throughout Asia.
This movie is described by Movieguide as an inspiring film is based on the true story, and historical accounts, of the lives of Polycarp, Germanicus and Irenaeus. It’s seen through the eyes of Anna, a young slave girl who is redeemed by a community of Christians, in second century Smyrna.
It does give a good overall view of the man Polycarp, and the lives of the early Christians in Smyrna (modern day Turkey) when it was under Roman Rule. For more on this great saint and letters from believers who knew him you can read here.
In the time of the persecuted church of Smyrna, it was required that all people worship Caesar as god, by offering incense to him.
Revelation 2:8-11 :
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.
It’s a reminder to us that while some day there will be a time when one has to make a choice between worshiping man or the True and living King of Kings, the Holy Spirit is as present in the lives of born again believers now as He has been in believers since He came to that upper room on the Day of Pentecost. All we need to do is trust in Him…
This really is a good movie, but as with any that have portrayals of slavery, demoralization and persecution, there are some hard parts. And of I’m sure there is plenty of artistic licence taken, but it is well worth watching and learning from. I hope folks take the time to watch.
This is still an open porch, but I hope maybe folks will discuss some of what they came away with by watching this. Something learned, or something to encourage others by.
I hope everyone has a blessed day!