Roma, Italy is one of the most interesting places I have ever visited, and that covers some ground! Rome is, along with Athens and Jerusalem, one of the cultural centers of modern mankind. When we are talking about seeing something old in Rome, it really is old. The Coliseum, the Forum, the prison that might have housed Peter and Paul, the Circus Maximus, where so many Christians were killed merely for entertainment of the populace, the ancient cathedrals and basilicas, are tributes to the longevity of Rome as a center of government and culture.
I tried to think back to what it might have been like to walk the streets of Rome 2000 years ago, or even further back. My mind starts to go there, but soon gives up. The people of that day had the same needs and desires, I suppose, of today’s Romanos. They ate and drank, they took care of children. They repaired their houses and their shoes. They shopped for the groceries and sat around and complained about the government, no doubt.
I am guessing that those ancient Romans wrestled with envy, lust, bitterness, grief, just as we do today. Some of them had little recourse- few options. Some of them had a special approach to life that gave them a wonderful resiliency and happiness, even in the midst of suffering.
You see, some of those ancient Romanos were… Christians! Some of them had first perceived the need to be saved from their own fallen sinfulness, and had received the pardon from G^d through their reliance on the shed blood of the Christ. They faced the persecution, the loss, the suffering with the hope that, though they had little reward in this world, one day they would see Jesus face to face, and there would be an eternity of fellowship and rejoicing.
As I walk the crowded streets of Rome, perhaps I retraced a few of the steps of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Certainly I retraced the steps of some of those thousands of unknown Christians. I might not be able to see, to feel, to smell, to taste the things they did, 2000 years back, but that’s okay. We still have a Great deal in common.
And one of these days, we will meet one another, and together we will see Jesus face to face, and there would be an eternity of fellowship and rejoicing.
Hmm, better than Rome, better than Rome by far!!