I’ve been reading a book by Eusebius. He lived in the 300’s and wrote the first history of the Christian Church. What makes it very interesting is that he lived very close in time to the time of the apostles and those who heard them directly.
He tells of Ignatius of Antioch who was ultimately martyred by being devoured by wild animals in Rome. Ignatius wrote a letter to the church in Rome requesting that they not deprive him of his longed-for hope by asking that he be released from martyrdom. He wrote:
From Syria to Rome, I am fighting with wild animals on land and sea night and day, chained to ten leopards—a troop of soldiers—whom kindness makes even worse. Their shameful deeds increase my discipleship, but this does not justify me. May I benefit from those wild beasts that are ready for me, and I pray that they are prompt. I will coax them to devour me quickly, not as with some whom they have been afraid to touch. If they are unwilling, I will force them to do it. Pardon me, but I know what is best for me; now I am starting to be a disciple. May I envy nothing seen or unseen in gaining Jesus Christ. Let fire and cross, struggles with beasts, tearing bones apart, mangling of limbs, crushing of my whole body, and tortures of the Devil come upon me, if only I may attain to Jesus Christ!
And I thought I knew what discipleship was! May this short excerpt encourage all of us to be all that we can be for Christ our savior.
(Originally Published January, 2005)