Reflections from Rome
As I write these words, I have just finished touring Rome for the past three days. It has been an eventful trip. As always, I have been inspired and blessed by this experience.
First of all, it offers me an opportunity to be with church members in a very different setting than any other time. I love walking through Rome with our people. I love being able to share some insights from church history in this magnificent city. It is so rich with history! But – the ability to walk each day and just share life with my church members is truly a memorable experience.
I also love the chance to reflect upon the grand sweeping work of God across time. Rome is home to so much of our story. It was here that Caesar Augustus issued his famous decree that required Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem to give birth to Jesus. It was here that both Paul and Peter were martyred.
The theological development of the church was connected to Rome for much of the ancient church’s history. It was in Rome where Constantine established a new perspective on Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. It was here that churches were established by Constantine—dedicated to Christ, Peter and Paul.
Just as western civilization flowed through Rome, so does the history of Western Christianity. I don’t know if all roads lead to Rome—but many of them do!
While we are here, we also get the chance to reflect upon the great sacrifices made by many Christians through the years. Our fellow believers were persecuted and required to truly stand for their faith against incredible odds. However, many of them stood strong and faithfully gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel. It is truly inspiring to think of them and reflect on their example.
It all comes alive for me here in Rome. I enjoy the sense of connection I feel for the history of our faith when I am walking these streets and praying in the churches. I am energized by imagining what it was like for Paul, Peter, Ignatius, Lawrence, Sebastian—and many others.
I also am reminded of just how powerful the Gospel truly is. Here in Rome, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was played against the secular power of the empire. The Gospel permeated every segment of the Roman world. In fact, by AD 325, Christianity was declared the official religion of the entire empire! This Gospel is the power of God!
I love it here. But, I am anxious to return to my pulpit and share God’s message with you!