22nd November 2013

Amaze The Crowds 

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28 (NIV UK)

There has been discussion in the news recently of the continuing class divide in the UK, but have you ever heard of Perpetua and Felicitas? Theirs is a poignant story of how Christians die for their faith, and of how in Christ social barriers break down. 

The setting is Carthage, North Africa, around 203 AD. Perpetua was of noble birth, and Felicitas was her slave. History records that they were imprisoned for being Christians in a society that was hostile to them. Such events happen also today: Christianity is listed among the persecuted faiths of the twenty first century. 

Typically captured Christians were executed unless they denied their belief in Christ. Felicitas was pregnant and a decision was made to delay execution until the baby was born. After the child was delivered and given away, both Perpetua and Felicitas were taken out into the arena where spectators could watch their death. They were gored by bulls but did not die immediately, and gladiators were sent out to finish them off. What was amazing to the crowds was not to so much that they were willing to die for their allegiance to Christ. Rather it was that, just before they were struck down, both women, each from a different social class, held on to each other in Christian unity and love. In Christ, as Paul pointed out, there is neither slave nor free. 

When Paul wrote to the Galatians, some of his readers would have been shocked with the idea that we are “all one in Christ Jesus”. “How ridiculous!” the average citizen would have thought, “Do you mean that, because of this Jesus person, there should be no racial, gender, or class discrimination?” Yes, that is exactly what Paul meant. 

How should this affect us? The biblical teaching has not changed. Also, today people are wary of, if not outright hostile to, Christ and his followers. They may not be surprised that we stand up for what we believe: after all, they’ve seen it before. What may amaze them, however, is that we treat everyone, friend or foe, male of female, irrespective of ethnic, religious and social background, with the same love and respect. Just like the onlookers were taken aback by how the noble Perpetua and her servant Felicitas accepted each other, so those around us can be astonished at our Christian love expressed abundantly and impartially to all. 

Let others know, through how we include them, that Christ died for all, and that, in him, we all become one, heirs together of life and the children of God. 

Father, help us to stand up and be counted as faithful followers of your son. Help us to break down the barriers that divide us, and to become one in Christ Jesus. In his name.

Study by James Henderson


ancientbibleAbout the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.  You are welcome to attend any of our Church congregations located throughout the UK.  For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.wcg.org.uk under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Email:  admin@daybyday.org.uk

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