Is the Roman Empire really on your mind? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
We all know the joke going around the internet now about how often men think about the Roman Empire. Before I heard it, I couldn’t tell you how often I did, but I am sure it was frequent. I am reading the letters of Seneca right now for one and if you study the New Testament, that kind of coincides with the Roman Empire.
I also have a friend who says he thinks about Christendom instead. Yes. We should think about that, but at the same time, I do think that while this is all funny, there is something true here. We need to think about the Roman Empire.
The Roman Empire at the time was the most powerful empire in the world. Rome was the eternal city. At its peak, it would have been suicide to have messed with it, and yet now, it’s gone. It’s a study of ancient history.
To be sure, it has left its effects behind. Many of our legal categories still come from the Romans today. We also do have the wisdom of the Romans such as Seneca who I mentioned as well as writers like Marcus Aurelius and Cicero and others. We can think of plays such as Julius Caesar. We can watch movies like Gladiator.
This is also the empire that God chose to have Jesus be born in and to be the birthplace of Christianity. Christianity grew and thrived in this empire that for all its nobility, was also quite immoral in many areas. Do I need to remind us of Nero who even had his own mother killed?
Also, Christianity arose in an empire where it was heavily persecuted. Sure, it wasn’t constant, but there were many emperors who held persecutions to try to eliminate Christians. We in America can be thankful that at least so far, we haven’t had the military of the nation go on a crusade to try to kill Christians.
In the end also, Christianity won the day. The empire actually became Christian. Unfortunately, too little, too late. It fell anyway, but the Christianity remained. No. Contrary to the thought of many, there are several problems with the idea that this led to a period called the “Dark Ages”. Christianity was still thriving.
So why do we need to think about the Roman Empire?
First off, this is a point of history and we need to learn from it. We need to see what people did back then and how they lived back then. Our ancestors were not idiots. They still have truths they can teach us.
Second, politically, we in America can think we are an invincible empire, but we are not. We need to see why it is the Roman Empire fell and what we can do to make sure it doesn’t happen here. Those who think they are too big to fail, too often do.
Third, we need to learn about how to spread Christianity. The earliest Christians spread throughout the Roman Empire without aid of technology like we have today, be it cars, planes, or media through the internet. They did more with less. Can you imagine how Paul would be using the internet if he had it available today?
Think about the Roman Empire. We should. Learn the history of it. Respect it, but also learn from its experiences. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)