St Zephyrinus became Pope in 202 a.d. and was martyred in 217 a.d. defending his belief in the Divinity of Jesus Christ. As I read his story last evening I wondered just how strong my belief system is. Do I believe deeply enough, strongly enough to suffer for it?
Around the world, every minute of the day persecution for one’s religious belief goes on; it is not isolated to one particular faith but runs the spectrum of all faiths and even to those who don’t believe in God. Why must we strive against each other so? Do we hate ourselves so much that we feel compelled to attack any person or group who doesn’t believe the way we do, think what we think and look like we look?
The big answer is yes. We aren’t in the Garden any more, nor have we been there for millenia. Humans as a race are not designed to get along. We come pre-built with petty jealousies and angers, passions and desires to be companionable for any length of time. We have to learn to get along, concede our own point of view willingly, or have it beaten/terrorized out of us – both as a larger group and as individuals.
The small answer is no. Once I realize I’m not in the Garden any more, meaning I realize I am responsible for my own in/action I have a choice…to get along with others in spite of their faith, their color, their country, their gender. To persecute or not is a question I must ask myself each day. To quietly accept persecution from others is also a question I have to ask and answer each day.
Is my belief in a Loving, Benevolent God strong enough to stand up against persecution? Is my faith in God big enough and strong enough to not persecute others who believe differently? Those are questions whose answer is fluid but I pray I will always be able to answer yes to both.