What does this matter of “committed” look like? How would I be able to recognize such a characteristic? Let’s look at the story of Agnes from about the year 304 A.D.
By way of historical background, through a military overthrow, Diocletian became emperor of Rome in 284 and went about restoring the empire’s former glory and unity. Christianity was well established in 284 and, as a result, hindered the revival of the pagan religious practices. Caesar Galerius, Diocletian’s lieutenant, convinced him that he had to eliminate all Christians so in 303 he began the last and fiercest persecution of Christianity by the Roman emperors.
Agnes was a thirteen year old believer who had determined to remain a virgin as the bride of Christ, a vow not uncommon in the Christian community at that time. According to fourth century records, young men from prominent Roman families became angered by her refusal to wed and denounced Agnes to the head of the church of Rome as a Christian. The judge initially tried to humor and entice her to recant, but Agnes refused, repeating she would have no other spouse than Jesus Christ. The judge then threatened her by displaying instruments of torture like iron hooks, racks, and fire, but Agnes expressed no fear.
Frustrated, the judge threatened to send her to a brothel to which Agnes reportedly stated, “….you will never be able to profane my body, because it is consecrated to Christ”. So angry, the judge immediately sent her to a public brothel with the instructions that anyone was free to use and abuse her. Tradition states that many young men tried to take advantage of the offer but when seeing her, they were all afraid to approach her. One young man did attempt to take her and when he reached out was blinded by a flash and fell to the ground. Agnes stopped her singing of hymns and knelt next to this young man and prayed that his sight would be restored, which the Lord did.
When the judge heard that all men respected her, he grew more angry and sentenced her to death by beheading. According to Bishop Ambrose, who wrote in 377, Agnes was overjoyed on hearing the sentence and remained so even after seeing the executioner. Bishop Ambrose wrote she “went to the place of execution more cheerfully than others go to their wedding.” He further wrote, “At such a tender age a young girl has scarcely enough courage to bear the angry looks of her father and a tiny puncture from a needle makes her cry as if it were a wound. And still this little girl had enough courage to face the sword. She was fearless in the bloody hands of the executioner. She prayed; she bowed her head. Behold in one victim the twofold martyrdom of chastity and faith.”
That is what “committed” looks like.
But if you find yourself passing this story off as one of those early Church martyr stories, let’s fast forward to April, 1999, just ten years ago at Columbine High School in Colorado. When Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott were both asked by the murderous Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold if they believed in God, both girls responded without hesitation “Yes” and were shot dead.
Again, that is what “committed” looks like.
Dearly beloved, where are you in your relationship to Christ. Not everyone is called to be a martyr. That said, how would you handle the setbacks of life? In these difficult economic times, how would you react to the loss of a job? How would you react to the loss of a spouse or a child? How would you react if all your earthly possessions were destroyed by a fire or by earthquake or by flood? How would you react if, in fact, you were called before the authorities on account of your Christian faith?
The committed life of Agnes to Christ has resulted in her eternal joy in the presence of Christ and has also resulted in an earthly legacy of Christian encouragement for here today, a mere 1,705 years later, we are rejoicing over the faithfulness of Agnes and drawing strength from her very short life. And the lives of Cassie and Rachel are having the same eternal and earthly legacy as thousands of young people all across our nation are coming to a saving knowledge of Christ and committing themselves to live for Christ with the same boldness and courage as Cassie and Rachel.
Have you settled in your heart and soul your relationship with Christ? Is that relationship a treasure beyond measure compared to anything this world has to offer? Let me close this thought with two verses of Scripture:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1: 13-14.
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2: 6-7.
I invite you to think clearly and carefully about this matter of “committed” to Christ and how it should look in your life. And this ministry stands ready and prepared to help as you seek a closer walk with Christ Jesus.
There is more to share in future articles and writings. And remember from the last posting…….”Our Father who is in heaven……” The Lord is eternally committed to us. Are we eternally committed to Him?
May the Lord bless you and keep you.