Monday, September 10, 2012

September 10, 2012

What Would You Do?

You are living in Paris in the year of our Lord 1565. There are four things you know very well: one, how fast disease travels; two, that the Catholic church of the sixteenth century does not like dissention; three, that poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions run rampant; and four, that warfare is frequent and deadly. Life for you has been, as the old saying goes, “nasty and brutish,” but you hope it will not also be “short.” Imagine the scene. Narrow medieval streets with old half-timbered houses on either side, pointed roofs reaching to the heavens. Handsome churches scattered near and far. You cannot help but smell the Seine River (which is not referred to as an open sewer without cause). You take note of women in long, sharp-waisted gowns and linen ruffs, and of men in those puffed and slashed sixteenth century “bloomers” that will make future generations chuckle.

16th century map of Paris, by Belleforest
It is a simple day. Not being Catholic, you are exempt from the feast day celebrations --- at least by your own reckoning --- and decide to take a stroll. You figure that since the “Edict of Amboise” was passed in March of 1562, you will be relatively safe, for the first War of Religion has ended and there is forced peace between France’s Catholics and Protestants. But the issuing of an edict does not mean anyone will obey it. There are many fanatics in Paris who would gladly run you through with the business end of a sword. You have never understood what it means to be equal. In the eyes of your countrymen you are a heretic, unfit to walk the earth. You were born looking over your shoulder. Now is no exception. But today you are young and have a life full of dreams just waiting around the corner. Now is not the time for melancholy thoughts.

A sudden rustling alerts you to an unwanted presence. A group of soldiers, some of whom appear to be half-drunk, comes out of the shadows. They demand to know your faith. In the sixteenth century, flushed with the liberties of the Reformation, you fully and truly profess the Protestant faith to be the only manifestation of God’s Word, the fulfillment of Scripture, and the whole truth of the Gospel. To accept another denomination is unthinkable. You believe the medieval church contains errors with which you could never reconcile. You take a deep breath; it seems you have been waiting your whole life for this moment, knowing it would come and only wondering when. But you are not afraid. Be still and know that I am God, a voice lingers in your mind. “Protestant,” you say. Despite the cost.

Back to the twenty-first century. If you could time-travel, if you found yourself in such a situation, what would you do? It is difficult even for modern-day Americans to imagine the brutality of that long-ago era. Whenever we are faced which tough challenges, it helps to remember our hearty, faithful ancestors and the sacrifices they made. They understood that admitting their Protestant faith would mean death or at the very least imprisonment. They understood that they would never see their loved ones again on this side of life. But their faith meant so much to them that they pressed ahead anyway.

They loved life, but they loved Christ more.

(c) 2012 Joyously Saved

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