Saturday, June 25, 2011

A New Kind of People

In AD 76 a new Emperor, Hadrian came to rule the Roman Empire until his death in AD 136. He was considered a man of culture and the arts. It appears he preferred peace rather than war. When he came to power persecution of Christians was in full swing. His desire to know and understand this “new people” led him to investigate those who followed the Jewish carpenter as there were many accusations against them.

So he sent this letter to Minucius Fundanus, proconsul of Asia, to conduct an investigation. In his letter he states; “Therefore he I do not wish, that the matter should be ignored without examination, so that these men may not be harassed, nor an opportunity given for malicious proceedings to be offered to informers. If, therefore, the provincials can clearly show their charges against these Christians, so as to answer before the tribunal, let them pursue this course only, but not just petitions, and mere outcries against Christians. For it is more fitting, if any one brings an accusation, that you should examine it.

Minucius Fundanus’ message to Caesar Hadrian concerning his investigation astounds me as he describes those who call themselves Christians…

“…But the Christians… show kindness to those who are near them; and whenever they are judges, they judge uprightly… They do good to their enemies… If one of them have bondsmen and bondswomen or children, through love towards them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. They do not worship strange gods, and they go their way with modesty and cheerfulness. Falsehood is not found among them; and they love one another… And he, who has, gives to him who has not, without boasting. And when they see a stranger, they take him in to their own homes and rejoice over him as a very brother… And if they hear that one of their number is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them anxiously minister to his necessity… And if there is any among them that is poor and needy, and they have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply the needy their lack of food… Such, O King, is their manner of life… And verily, this is a new people, and there is something divine in the midst of them.”

This challenges me as I rely on God to make me into this kind of person. Thank you for your partnership in the gospel as we together pray and work to see “new people” developed all around the world.

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

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