Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rome: Ptolemaeus

“Are you a Christian?” Three times the question was asked. Three times the answer was, “Yes.” Three Christians were martyred. The Roman ruler Urbicus had no tolerance for Christians in A.D. 150.

Ptolemaeus had been accused of teaching that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. He hated the deceit and ungodliness of the day. Therefore when Urbicus asked if he was a Christian, he could not lie. He had to stand for righteousness and boldly answer, “Yes.”  For this he was put in chains and beaten many times.

Again he was brought before Urbicus. Again he was only asked one question, “Are you a Christian?”

Pain and suffering could not change reality. “Yes,” Ptolemaeus answered again.

Hearing of Ptolemaeus’ arrests, an elderly man approached Urbicus and pleaded for his soul. “Why would you execute such a fine teacher? What benefit does it serve you or the emperor? He has broken no laws. He has only confessed to being a Christian.”

Intrigued by the man’s defense, he asked a single question. “Are you also a Christian?”  The elderly man courageously stood his ground, “Yes. I am.”

“Then you may join the teacher.”

If this was not enough, another man came forward with the same protest. Again the question was asked, “Are you a Christian?”

The three children of God were executed for answering, “Yes.”

The question is simple enough. “Are you a Christian?” It’s direct. It’s personal. It’s a yes/no point of truth. Then what is difficult about the answer? The problem is not that Christians don’t know how to answer. The real problem is that others aren’t asking us the question often enough. We don’t live in such a distinct way that anyone thinks to ask what is different about our lives. We must admit far too few people are asking us the question asked of Ptolemaeus. That is the real problem. When is the last time your lifestyle piqued the interest of your coworker, friend, or neighbor—enough for them to inquire about your faith? You know the answer—now live so that others will ask the question.

Excerpted from Extreme Devotion, a devotional book that includes 365 true accounts of men and women who totally sold out for Jesus. You can order a copy by contacting our office or by ordering online.

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