Summary: ntohing new under the sun
A wise man once said there really is nothing new under the sun.
Technology may have changed,
the world may have grown taller with sky scrapers,
our horizons may look different as city upon city emerges out of the dust.
But basically at the end of the day nothing has changed.
We have not changed,
the human race is still the same.
Now many would disagree with this,
many people would say that we have evolved,
grown more intelligent,
even grown taller,
but deep down inside us we are exactly the same,
no dramatic changes have ever occured in the hearts and souls of human kind.
All of us have the same basic fears,
the situations we face each day are basically the same Even relationships are the same,
how we relate to others and how we relate with God has not really changed,
Ecclesiastes was right there really is nothing new under the sun.
So what could this possibly mean for us,
for the people who live at the noisy end of the twentieth century.
I know one thing it means for certain is that we can learn from the past,
We can look to the past for answers to the problems of today.
This is often what we do when we open our Bibles and read,
we look at events that happened 2000 plus years ago, in the hope that they will speak to us today.
The customs clothing and culture may be different,
but more often than not the problems faced in the pages of the Bible are the same.
There is wisdom in the pages of this book.
What we are going to do then is take a step back in history,
Not as large a step as we would normally take though, this time we are only stepping back 1600 years
To the end of the fourth century.
My hope is that we can take a look at the life of the Christian Church from that period and learn an important lesson for our lives today.
The period were looking at is a period of stability in the life of the church,
infact it was the first time anything like stability had ever occurred.
Prior to this time the church had always had to face death and persecution,
this could mean anything from burning at the stake to imprisonment, all because Christianity was an illegal religion.
This all changed when an emperor came to power early on in the fourth century.
The emperor was Constantine
who just happened to be a Christian.
All persecution stopped almost overnight,
no one had to fear imprisonment or death anymore for the sake of the faith.
And so it became safe to declare your faith publicly, infact it not only became safe but you might say it became fashionable,
Christians actually became favored by the Roman Empire.
No longer did Christians have to hide in the cupboard, or live under the sole of Roman boots
The Church could now stand proud,
happy days were here again
only better times were ahead as Constantine began to show the Church his favor.
Strangely enough many Christians didn’t like
this many Christians objected strongly to this,
They saw the favor of the Emperor as a curse, because Christian became just like every body else.
You see while the church was being persecuted,
while the church was being hunted down by Rome,
it was able to live set apart from the world.
The church and the world had an invisible wall between them, a wall that Constantine removed.
Persecution had brought with it martyrs
hero’s of the faith. To be a martyr was to be truly following Christ,
To be a martyr was to truly take up your cross,
to be a martyr was to turn your back on the world and walk the way of the Calvary road.
With Constantine though martyrdom ceased to be an option,
you could no longer be put to death for the faith when everybody was embracing the faith.
The would be martyrs had to find another way,
another way to take up the cross,
another way to show that Christianity swims against the flow of society,
Another way was needed to show the world that Christianity is not a ho hum religion but a way of life.
Then one day it happened.
Just outside of Egypt
in the desert this new way began,
like a phoenix rising from the ashes a movement rose. No one was quite sure who started it or exactly where it had began
but something happened.
Christians began to turn there backs on the world
now it wasn’t in big numbers
well not at first anyway, but in small numbers.
Yes in very small numbers of people began to again take up their cross,