“…This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.”
We consider that today’s crisis in the middle east is evident of the worse human atrocities that have ever been seen; then we step back in time to the year of 177, to a place most wretched as Lyons, Gaul (France) and realize today’s crisis is only a replica of the past. Lyons beheld one of the most wretched tortures of human life. Yet, it was not Lyons, Gaul that made this a breeding place for evil; it was (then) and is today the hearts of people who have given themselves fully to the devil and his work of wickedness. For the Christian, how can we patiently endure? How can we be faithful to the end? How can we gain the power needed to stay firm in the midst of such malevolent anguish? We learn from those who have gone before us.
When I think of patient endurance and faithfulness that Revelation 13:10 calls for, I can’t help but think of a poor slave girl, weakened by gender and frail by size who endured such torture, yet showed the most power in weakness. Her name: Blandina of France.
Blandina, along with many other Christians, was tortured for her faith. In some cases their torture was used as entertainment, not just for recantation. (Wickedness of the worse kind is to see someone tortured for the pure sake of satisfying one’s thirst for blood. Something is very wrong with a person who desires entertainment of such a kind!)
From being burned alive, chained over a grate of burning coals, to being ripped apart limb by limb by hungry beasts, and being thrown via a catapult to the bulls, these Christians found strength in one thing: confession of their faith.
A battered, broken, yet power filled Blandina was so tortured that her persecutors were worn out by the cruelties they inflicted on her. She would not recant, nor would she die, instead she continued to believe in her Lord. Her stance in faith heaped exhaustion and fatigue upon her oppressors. What gave her the power to withstand? Her confession: “I am a Christian, and no evil is committed by us.” Once her confession was spoken, Blandina was filled with supernatural power to overcome the wickedness she faced. This power annihilated the very pain being afflicted upon her and the power itself within her was too much for the persecutors to handle. And her resolve fueled strength and inspiration into the Christians who were in line to be tortured next.
Maybe frail and weak she was, but spiritual strength by her confession was her salvation, “…for it is with your mouth that you confess your faith and are saved” (Romans 10:10). Salvation is found in eternity; it is found in forgiveness of our sin; it is found in new life in Christ, but it is also found on earth in the midst of persecution. This confession does not preserve life on earth (Thank God!), but it does preserves time on earth to exhibit great faith – it is a confession that strengthens our brothers and sisters in their faith and one that makes a mockery of the evil one and his followers.
Blandina teaches us that confession of who we are in Christ is our greatest power to overcome evil. The main way to patiently endure and remain faithful to Jesus in the midst of trial is to confess Him as Lord of our life and then boldly state who we are in Him, “I am a Christian.” This will not save your life on earth as this is not the goal anyway, but it will preserve your mind, heart and soul’s perspective; and then it will model for others that there is power to persevere in our struggles as we stake our claim firmly in our identity.
As noted in the Foxes Book of Martyrs, Blandina, “showed that those things that appear unsightly and contemptible among men (torture and death from this life) are most honorable in the presence of God…” We find that when we “on account of (our) love to God’s name is exhibited, real energy” is obtained. We do not find our strength in “boasting and pompous pretenses.” Man may boast about life and success on earth, but when all is stripped away, what will man recant? His temporary life on earth? His successes? His flesh? Or will he recant his Lord, Jesus? To recant our life, successes and our flesh on earth is to live in power with Christ. Otherwise the alternative is to suffer frenzied anxiety and agony forever and ever.
Stake your claim in who you believe in; then in the face of trial and/or (great or small) persecution, repeatedly speak boldly who you are, “I’m a Christian.” Then watch God grant you the power you need to patiently endure and live faithfully to God’s name until the very end!
We can do this, for, “We are Christians!”