Perpetua was the daughter of a Roman nobleman during the third century. She was married to a fellow nobleman and had a young child. She led a privileged life until she heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ and converted to Christianity. At that time, it was illegal to worship any other god other than the emperor, punishable by imprisonment and execution. Her father pleaded with her to recant her belief but Perpetua clung to her faith, bravely declaring, “Neither can I call myself anything else than what I am, a Christian.” Perpetua was imprisoned for her faith in Jesus Christ and a short time later, she was martyred by the Romans. Her story is venerated to this day as an example of the ultimate sacrifice the early Christians paid to proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ.
Who would sacrifice the bond between other family members for the sake of their faith? Isn’t this too much to ask of anyone? How can we celebrate such a sacrifice?
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
Matthew 10:37 (ESV)
When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior in college, I truly did not understand the potential cost of my decision. Certainly, I knew of this verse from Matthew but it did not resonate in my soul. Only over thirty years later am I beginning to truly understand the staggering implications of a life dedicated to serving Jesus Christ. I marvel at other believers who made the decision to follow Jesus Christ at a very young age, even in childhood. They understood the cost when I was completely self-absorbed in living my life in the manner I desired.
I have lived a relatively sheltered life in my spiritual life with my most difficult decisions wrestling with issues like workplace and family relationships. I have never been challenged with a decision that would require me to sacrifice my life for my faith in Jesus Christ. Would I have a faith as strong as Perpetua? Would I have made the same decision she made if I knew what it may cost me, to forsake my parents, my spouse, my children, and my closest relationships? I pray that God will give me the strength to do so if the moment arises.
God sacrificed His only Son, Jesus Christ, for our sins. He understands the cost of obeying and loving God. Perpetua is Latin for perpetual, meaning never ending or changing. The cost to follow Jesus Christ has never changed. It demands our complete devotion to Him on a level that transcends our daily grind and should force us to reconsider everything we do in the light of what it cost Him to save us from our sins and eternal separation from God. Only then, can I join with Perpetua and state, “Neither can I call myself anything else than what I am, a Christian.”
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.