The Assembling of Ourselves Together: Unleashing Disciples
What is the church for? Why do we assemble ourselves together regularly? Why do churches spend so much money and time on advertising and programs until everyone is exhausted? Is this what Jesus envisioned and commanded? Is this what the apostles did? What He commanded and what they did was make disciples and then unleashed these disciples upon the the world. Are you an unleashed disciple?...a very dangerous person indeed!!!
To these protracted and cruel persecutions the church opposed no revolutionary violence, no carnal resistance, but the moral heroism of suffering and dying for the truth. But this very heroism was her fairest ornament and staunchest weapon. In this very heroism she proved herself worthy of her divine founder, who submitted to the death of the cross for the salvation of the world, and even prayed that his murderers might be forgiven. The patriotic virtues of Greek and Roman antiquity reproduced themselves here in exalted form, in self-denial for the sake of a heavenly country, and for a crown that fadeth not away. Even boys and girls became heroes, and rushed with a holy enthusiasm to death. In those hard times men had to make earnest of the words of the Lord: "Whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple." "He, that loveth father and mother more than me, is not worthy of me." But then also the promise daily proved itself true: "Blessed are they, who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." "He, that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." And it applied not only to the martyrs themselves, who exchanged the troubled life of earth for the blessedness of heaven, but also to the church as a whole, which came forth purer and stronger from every persecution, and thus attested her indestructible vitality.
These suffering virtues are among the sweetest and noblest fruits of the Christian religion. It is not so much the amount of suffering which challenges our admiration, although it was terrible enough, as the spirit with which the early Christians bore it. Men and women of all classes, noble senators and learned bishops, illiterate artisans and poor slaves, loving mothers and delicate virgins, hoary-headed pastors and innocent children approached their tortures in no temper of unfeeling indifference and obstinate defiance, but, like their divine Master, with calm self-possession, humble resignation, gentle meekness, cheerful faith, triumphant hope, and forgiving charity. Such spectacles must have often overcome even the inhuman murderer. "Go on," says Tertullian tauntingly to the heathen governors, "rack, torture, grind us to powder: our numbers increase in proportion as ye mow us down. The blood of Christians is their harvest seed. Your very obstinacy is a teacher. For who is not incited by the contemplation of it to inquire what there is in the core of the matter? And who, after having joined us, does not long to suffer?" Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume II