Reflections from Rome - Worshipping God

Posted by Al Hathaway Friday, August 16, 2013

Living in America we have to a certain extent religious freedom. None of us can really say you have experienced persecution from the government because of your beliefs or form of worship. Police and/or military are not standing around watching if you are gathering to worship and being ready to arrest you if you do.

If you lived during a period of time when the very act of gathering to worship would have been considered a crime against the state would you worship the God you served? Would you worship God if it meant your life and/or your freedom? Would you worship God if the mere mention of your fidelity to Him meant you were less incline to bow to the state?

You all know the story of Daniel and the lions den. Would you worship God if it meant being thrown to the lions? You know the story of the three Hebrew boys. Would you worship God if it meant that you would have been thrown into a fiery  furnace?

You don't have to answer. I can answer for you if church attendance during bad weather is any indication. If bad weather stops you from coming to worship, wouldn't a bad government stop you as well.

If you will not boldly come out in the snow, would you boldly defy soldiers?

In Rome we studied the history of the Catacombs. The Catacombs is an underground cemetery. We visited Saint Callixtus, a site that is 37 acres with estimated over  a half million bodies buried there. It is four stories underground.

We walked two stories down and walked through crypts were famous and not so famous Christian believers were buried.

There was a period of time when the church was persecuted and Christians were not permitted to gather for worship. The very act of worship meant you would be arrested by the Roman state or killed as a martyr. The Roman Empire permitted the Catacombs to exist with a type of respect for the dead. While the Roman Empire believed in cremation, Christians believed in the burial of the body. Nevertheless, the Roman Empire permitted the burial of Christians in Catacombs, but didn't permit public gathering for worship.

How do you thing they resolved this dilemma? Did they cease worshipping God because it was literally a crime against the state? Did they defy the Empire at the very risk of their lives? Some did and they are listed as the martyrs of their era.

While two stories below the ground, I discovered what many of the Christians of that era did as their act of worship. They built their altar and sanctuary underground in the Catacombs. They worshipped in the tombs underground.

How inspiring it was to have prayer in the very place where Early Christians worshiped God!

It was an awesome and deeply moving experience to know even in the cemetery you could worship God in beauty and in truth.

Why do you permit there to be any reason for not worshipping God for all of His marvelous works? Get out of the bed, don't relax and become lazy, and avoid the tendency for making excusing for not going to worship.

You are free to worship God. So get up and worship Him!

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