Faith, in today’s society, has unfortunately become something like a spectator sport. But faith should not be a spectator sport – like watching Pope Francis or other famous and holy priests and nuns (in other words, those who are “qualified,” those who have talk shows and podcasts) do what they do best. Instead, faith should be more like a contact sport, which engages the whole person…and yes, we shouldn’t be afraid of getting our hands dirty.
During the early Church, there was a series of Christian persecutions exacted by several Roman Emperors. While it is true that this resulted in many people abandoning their faith for fear of losing their lives, the persecutions also brought about the martyrdom of many Christians, and their death eloquently conveyed to the world the importance that God and faith had in their lives. One of the accounts of early Christian martyrs, whose examples inspire and challenge us today, are Perpetua and Felicity.
In the year 203, Perpetua and Felicitas were arrested and imprisoned, along with three others for being Christian. Perpetua and Felicity knew full well what being a Christian meant, even before they converted to Christianity. Perpetua, a 22 year old mother of a young infant son, and Felicity, her slave girl, remained resolute to hold on to their faith no matter what the cost. Perpetua’s father, however, pleaded with her to change her mind and abandon her faith. After all, a 22 year old, well-educated, high-spirited woman had every reason to want to live – including a baby son whom she was still nursing. But, Perpetua’s answer to her father was simple and clear. Pointing to a flower vase, she asked her father, “See that vase there? Can you call it by any other name than what it is?” Her father answered, “Of course not.” Perpetua responded, “Neither can I call myself by any other name than what I am – a Christian.”At a trial shortly afterwards, Perpetua refused to offer a sacrifice for the prosperity of the emperors. When the court asked “Are you a Christian?” she answered, “Yes, I am,” thereby condemning herself to death.
So let me ask you a question, if you were in the exact same situation, would there be enough evidence to cause you to be convicted for being a Christian? Do others know you are a Christian by your actions and faith? Faith should matter in our lives. Faith should define our existence and not be reduced to something we do in our spare time. Unfortunately, faith, in our very competitive and driven society, has become somewhat of a hobby – going to church and praying to God is something that we may be passionate about and we may even do, but only when we have the time and energy.
We all know that time is a very precious commodity. We will never have enough time to do everything we want to do. So, we have to prioritize each and every day by making time for the important things in life before the whirlwind of life’s pace steals it all from our hands. To prioritize is to decide what is most important:
My career or my family, which is more important? My friends or my studies, which is more important? Sports and all those other activities that may give our children the competitive edge in society or God, which is more important?
We need to decide which is more important, or what is most important. We don’t have to try to convince others by our words because our actions will always speak louder than our words.
So, is faith what defines us, or is it something we do in our spare time?