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To be a Christian

Now it is Easter. As a Christian you go through different rites of passage at this time of the year. From the lows of ‘Good’ Friday where Jesus was crucified and all hope of his mission seemed to have come to a dreadful End. But Easter of course has the happiest of endings. Three days later as Jesus predicted he was raised to life so you rejoice and say Hallelujah-it is the happiest of times.

But at this time of the year in an increasingly secular world that we live in, people may ask “but why do you think Easter is true, what is the proof that Jesus is the Son of God, where is the evidence that Jesus was who he said he was?”

Let me give you just one reason why I am a Christian and see if that helps:

Probably my favourite character in Christendom is a little known 3rd century martyr said only to be in her early 20’s by the name of Perpetua. She lived in what is now Tunis and was due to be baptised as a Christian when the Roman emperor at that time tried to quash Christianity and took her and others like her. Imprisoned prior to being butchered, her father visited her to plead for her to renounce Jesus so she could live. Her response was simple: “Father, do you see this vase here? Could it be called by any other name than what it is? Well, neither can I be called anything other than what I am, a Christian”.

She and her Christian sisters became admired by their prison guards and allowed them to baptise each other. When they entered the arena to be killed they robustly refused to wear the sashes and clothes of the pagan gods and awaited the wild animals who were to gore them, but they refused to approach them and instead attacked her captors. A Gladiator then struck the first blow into Perpetua but he was so shaken by what he was doing that he could not finish the act so Perpetua took his sword and finished the job herself.

Prior to her martyrdom, she wrote a diary of what had happened to encourage others to faith and 18 centuries on, it continues to do that.

When I first heard of Perpetua, I was greatly moved and I can still recall watching a theologian trying to tell the story but eventually she just broke down, so moved was she by the sacrifice made. My argument is why would a young woman in the peak of her life, who had a young daughter, give all that up when all she had to do was to deny who Jesus was? She and her sisters believed and they could not deny who they were and who Jesus is.

I still get moved by the example set by Perpetua and her friends, and there are numerous others who have given their lives or made huge sacrafices rather than deny Jesus. That is just one of the reasons why I remain a Christian. Happy Easter!