Imagine a room just off the large arena-type room in which the Roman Senate met, in say, 125 AD. The Emperor is Hadrian. He and a few hand-picked senators were discussing how to expand the Roman Empire. Hadrian was not as interested in maintaining all of his predecessor, Trajan’s acquisitions, but he did have an interest in social change and civic improvements.
Senator Lucinius was first to address the issue at hand. “Emperor Hadrian, I come to you today to speak about a sect rooted in Judaism. You are familiar with them, as they are sometimes called ‘Christians’ or followers of a Jew name Jesus. They see him as Christ, you know, a king. However, our government, after years of persecuting them, decided many years ago to treat them as we treat other Jews. As long as they pay their taxes and obey the law, they are left alone.”
“I’m aware of these Christians. So what’s the issue we need to discuss,” asked Hadrian.
“For a number of years there have been a growing number of Italians and Romans who are responding to the message of Christianity. Even a sizable group over the years from the royal palace itself. Among those have been people of means who have becoming followers of this Jesus fellow.”
“Do you think they are planning an over through?”
“No, it’s not that. They are very much citizens of the Empire. Perhaps Dionysus could explain it better. He has more contact with them than I have.”
“Emperor Hadrian, I humbly ask your indulgence as I speak about this important matter. We do not think these Christians are a danger to the Empire. In fact, we think they are an asset. For example, Brutus Maximus owns one of the largest toga manufacturing complexes in the Empire. He has factories in all the regions, all the way to Spain. He has become one of several businessmen who are Christians. It seems our system of government is good for business.”
“Of course it is. After all we are ruled by me with help from the Senate. Now, what’s that got to do with some of our citizens becoming Christians?”
The third Senator, Attianus, said, “Let me tell him! Great Emperor. Rather than appearing to be against Christians, we should incorporate them into our process of government. Especially since they seem to be growing faster than any other religion. Even Greeks have converted.
“What we were thinking is giving any Christian businessman an exemption from government taxes.”
Hadrian leaned forward in his seat and with a frown said, “Be careful what you say! Taxing the populace is what puts food on our tables and pays for our vacation homes on the Mediterranean. Our military might rests on taxes. Everything operates on taxes! Now you are proposing letting some people out of paying them!”
Attianus looked afraid to speak, so Lucinius took over. “Lord Emperor, here’s how it will work. We will raise the taxes on the workers, not the owners. With this plan more businesses will open and more people will be working and the economy will flourish.”
“How high will we tax the workers under this new plan? As you know, there is already discontent among those countries we have occupied about the tax rate.”
“Emperor, it’s about the haves and the have nots. It’s always been that way. Some are born to work and others are born to live off of the work of others. What we are doing is just expanding the field. People will work for whatever they are paid, rather than starve. The Christians will jump at the chance at being a greater part of our government.”
“I’m not excited about giving anyone, even a Roman Christian a lot of power.” Said Hadrain.”
“Not to worry. We can pass a law preventing that.”
Hadrian said, “I also hear these Christians operate by a different set of ethics than do others . What makes you think they will go for something that will denigrate others? And what if some of those who work for them become Christians? What makes you think they will take advantage of those I hear they call brothers and sisters?”
Attianus smiled and said, “That’s an interesting point. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But we know It’s all about the money. Isn’t it Emperor? It’s all about the money.”
CONCERNS: Tolly Nicklas, Leena Bolin’s cousin’s health continues to decline. Gary Overstreet is at home. Steve Gaynor’s sister, Betty, is slowly improving. Melisha Scruggs asks pray for a co-worker named Jeanie, who has a child with multiple health issues. Remember also Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, who is doing well after heart surgery. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver. Due to an accident, Amber can only communicate with her eyes. Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry, Wayne Phlegar, Ray & Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 3-8
Monday: Matthew 18:10-20
Tuesday: Romans 14:1-18
Wednesday II Thess. 3:1-16
Thursday: Genesis 45:4-28
Friday: Mark 19:17-31
Saturday: Psalm 67:1-10
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 10-15
Monday: Ephesians 1:3-14
Tuesday: Philippians 1:3-18
Wednesday: II Corinthians 9:6-15
Thursday: Luke 5:17-26
Friday: I Timothy 6:1-10
Saturday: Psalm 111:1-10
Dr, Bolin will be in Honduras with another doctor and twenty-eight medical students for a week or so. They will treat over a hundred patients a day. Keep all of them and the people they treat in your prayers.
Last Sunday Judy Hall asked that we pray for their new “rescued” pound pup who escaped from their care. Happy to announce that she is back safe and sound, and slowly adjusting to her new home.
FAITH NIGHT AT THE BALL PARK
The Salem Red Sox is having a Faith Night at the ball park on July 29th. There will be Christian music, family entertainment, and 1,000 T-shirts to the first arrivals. The gates will open at 5:00 P. M.
General admission is $6.00 and box seats are $8.00. Sorry, but the flyer didn’t come.
Many of us remember Melissa Keller who worshiped with us while she was at Roanoke Collage. Rich and Connie Crites became her away from home parents. While she was teaching at a college in Eastern Tennessee, she met and married a man who is also a member of the church. He has a daughter from a former marriage and they now have a baby boy on the way.
They have decided to give back to the church, and are now at Crowley’s Ridge College in Paragould, Arkansas. With her PhD. in Biology, they will both increase the status of this small Church of Christ college. What a good story!
ANYONE GOT SOME TIME?
The area Roger Fisher cleaned on Carlton has grown up in weeds. Our Yard man will not mow there because it has some rocks and small stumps. If you have a day you can help, let Keith and Holly know and they will join you.