The Testimony of Emperor Hadrian
Emperor Hadrian ruled the Roman Empire from 117-138 BC. During his reign, he systematically replaced holy sites in Israel with monuments to Roman deities. Though some current historian question Emperor Hadrian’s motives, his actions have traditionally been attributed to his animosity to Christianity.
He figuratively marched through the Holy Land, trying to re-write history without Christ. He built the temple of Venus over the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and had a shrine where the place of the Nativity. The emperor of the known world dedicated time, effort, and resources trying to erase the memory of God’s sojourn on earth.
To no one’s surprise, Emperor Hadrian died, but his temples persisted. . . for a while. Today, the Church of Holy Sepulcher has displaced Venus’ temple, and the Church of the Nativity sits where the emperor’s shrine used to be. But the aforementioned buildings lasted long enough to provide historical attestation to Christ’s life. Today, historians are fairly confident that their identifications of the location of multiple events of Christ’s life are accurate, because Hadrian conveniently marked them for us.
Attempting to destroy the life and legacy of Jesus’ earthly life – Emperor Hadrian preserved it for more than a millennia. God cannot be outlasted, outsmarted, or rubbed out by man’s bias or hatred. Unlike the emperor, God is eternal. His plans are eternal; they always come to fruition regardless of man’s wimpy tactics. God won, and He will win today – Emperor Hadrian would tell you this.
"E" is for Entertainment
Our culture is short on many things, but entertainment is not one of them. Dramas. Music. Sports on TV or in person. A favorite author or comedian. Movies.
Entertainment is whatever we do just for fun. It doesn’t challenge us to change or pressure us into work or servitude. It is amusement for the moment and enjoyment for the day which allows our minds to rest and retreat from the world.
And thus, the temptation is simply to do whatever I enjoy…regardless of it is content. The problem is that entertainment is a veritable parade of philosophy, theology, and worldview that seers our minds through written and visual pictures. Thus, the morality of entertainment deeply matters as well as the way in which it directs the heart and mind.
You are what you eat. We know that the roasted vegetables fuel our bodies and the French fries, the triple chocolate chunk ice cream, and cheeseburgers…try to fuel them but mostly just hang around…for decades.
Similarly, whatever is consumed in entertainment is going to be part of my memory bank from now on. The beauty of a self-sacrificial love story will be there along with the bloody gore of invading aliens. The wonder of triumph after desperate battle will remain alongside the lewd bedroom scene.
If you are what you eat…is your entertainment building up your spirit or weighing it down like soggy, day old French fries?
Seek the Cross
I was driving (and even going the speed limit) when my thoughts wandered. I thought about how the wrong things I do separate me from God. I remembered how this breach in our relationship is absolutely un-repairable…at least from my side. And even though this mess I am in (and our world is in) is completely my own fault (and our own fault), God said, “I’ve got a plan to fix that.”
I thought about Jesus as God’s plan and the perfect life He lived. I considered the cruel death He died in my place. I rejoiced in His resurrection from the dead -- which assures all who trust in Him eternal life – because if He could raise Himself, He will raise us too.
And after all that, I thought, “Well, of course, God did that. Of course, I am assured everlasting life. That is all obvious! I’m ready for something deeper.” That is where I stopped in my tracks. The Cross and the Resurrection is the mystery of our faith – there is nothing deeper.
It’s the mystery of why God would love a bunch of rebels, why a King would sacrifice His Son to save slaves, and why the Prince would be willing die to rescue peasants. It’s the puzzle of how people actively opposed to God are awakened to their desperate need of Him today and trust Him forever. It’s the testimony of how those who trust Jesus as Savior and follow Him as Lord of their lives are radically transformed and used by God so others may seek the cross.
There is nothing deeper than that.
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory.”
~ 1 Timothy 3:16
This morning I did something I can’t say I’ve ever done before. Before flipping on the lamp, I put my head under the blanket to avoid the classic case of morning fried eyeballs. And as I sat under my quilt slowly pulling it away from my eyes I realized: I will be doing this my entire --because this is the Christian life. A life following Christ is spent in seeking and seeing more of the gloriously light of His truth and majestic splendor of His person and work.
Staying under the blanket all day is not an option. Likewise spiritually, staying under the blanket all life is not an option. God slowly peels back the blanket from our eyes. Each and every day as we seek Him in prayer and study His word, He is able to show more of Himself and the truth. Finally, one day, the blanket will be fully removed and in heaven we shall see Him as He is.
And that case of fried eyeballs I won’t be trying to avoid (1 John 3:2).
Come with me as we grow in fellowship with each other and our Savior to whom belongs the Amazing Escape from sin and death and the Amazing Journey into glorious life.