Let the enemy pursue me and overtake me;
Yes, let him trample my life to the earth,
And lay my honor in the dust. Selah
Psalm 7:5 (NKJV)
I was recently looking through the media content of a freshly downloaded Bible study app on my tablet computer when I stumbled upon a painting that not only caught my eye, but also utterly grabbed me by the heart. The Christian Martyr’s Last Prayer was painted by French artist Jean Leon Gerome in 1883, and depicts a heart-wrenching group of Christians huddled and praying together on the arena floor of an ancient Roman coliseum. Along the perimeter of the floor are multiple crucified people as an arena official is lighting each on fire. As the coliseum is packed with spectators, two lions and a tiger emerge from a passageway out of the arena ground. The fate of these Christians is certain, and, from the world’s vantage point, it is thoroughly and violently bleak.
What seeds of glory could these Christians have had planted in their hearts to endure such a spiteful and savage death? The love for and truth found in Jesus Christ is what led these believers to their fate. This painting is an accurate representation of the many believers that Rome’s maniacal emperors had violently murdered during that era. The believers’ sacrifice and martyrdom was not lost on the world as Christ’s Church remains today. It is one of many ways through which God has established and grown his Church.
If one travels to modern day Rome, Italy, and tours the Coliseum, he or she will notice the large wrought iron cross situated at the gateway entrance to the inside of the arena. There appears to be no better symbol than what this cross represents with respect to the martyrdom that many Christians experienced in this and other arenas. The cross itself signifies the sacrifice that Christ made for us all and the iron seems to signify the strength that these martyred believers were given by God in their darkest hour.
All of this is a reminder that, as believers, we are in some sort of arena nearly every day. That arena may be our workplaces, our homes, our communities, or even our churches. The spiritual and academic preparation that Regent gives its students is critical in the individual and professional arenas of each student. God does not need for His people to have a college education in order to be used by Him, but for those who have been called to arenas in certain academic and professional fields, God can certainly work through the Christ-centered education that one will receive at Regent University.Christianity, Jesus, The Christian Martyr's Last Prayer