We Are Here
One summer when I was in college I went on one of these pre-packaged student tours of Europe. We visited a lot of cathedrals and museums and got to see the places that we had only talked about in our Western Civilization history courses. One of the places we visited was Rome. We got to see all the things you see in the guidebooks and history books -- the Forum, the Coliseum, the Vatican, and the catacombs. I've forgotten most of the places we went and what we saw, but I'll never forget that visit to the catacombs.
Down in the catacombs you would see from time to time markings of a symbol of a fish or a cross. The guidebooks say these were left by the first Christians. I suppose a skeptic might think these were just added later to impress the tourists. Well, maybe they were, but in the end that doesn't matter. What matters is that the earliest Christians were there. Nearly two thousand years before me they stood in the same dark, damp passageway I did. Standing there in those catacombs I had, for the first time in my life, a real sense of the history of Christianity. I sensed it. I sensed the spirit of their presence there. They left a mark on me as well.
I came to the realization that we who believe in Jesus are part of an unbroken chain stretching back two millennia. It was not just an intellectual realization, but a deep-down-in-your bones realization of that connection. Those who stood where I stood also believed as I believe. Those who left their mark in that place are not strangers to me, for they too are my brothers and sisters in Christ.
They stood against the power of Imperial Rome and simply said, "We will not deny our Lord." They would not be compromised or conformed by society's demand merely for the conveniences of physical life. No matter what was done to them, they remained. They left their marks not only on the walls of those ancient tunnels but on the history of the world. They said, "We are here." Today, we are still here.
All of the disputes over doctrine, personalities, church councils, and church movements pale by comparison to me. Whatever the issues we find to argue over this one thing remains. We believe in the same Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior of mankind as those that came before. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
We are here, not for ourselves, but to do the will of the one who died for us. We are here to stand up and make our mark in this day and age so that our brothers and sisters of the past will not have suffered persecution in vain and that those who follow after will remain part of an unbroken chain.
The small things and the big things we do in the name of Jesus are our way of standing by our ancient brothers to say, "We are here, too."