Torchbearers for Christ
Saturday, September 22, 2018
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Saints in strange places!

This study is based on Philippians 4:22 which reads, “All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household”. At first glance, it may not appear unusual that there should be warm-hearted Christians in Caesar’s household in Rome sending greetings to other believers. But when we understand something of the depraved environment in which these believers in the Lord Jesus were living, we see that they were shining as lights in a very dark place, because Caesar’s household was the last place where one would expect to find clean living, outgoing believers.
 
Historians tell us that Roman civilisation at this time was characterised by heartless cruelty and indescribable corruption. The horror and degradation that abounded there have probably never been exceeded. The Emperor Nero himself was described as a murderer, a drunkard and a pervert. He was guilty of the most vicious forms of cruelty, including the torturing of hundreds of Christians to death. He murdered both his mother and his wife.
 
But against this sordid background, we find radiant Christians sending their greetings to other believers they had never met. “All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household”. What an uncongenial atmosphere in which to live for Christ! Moreover, many of these saints were no doubt slaves of Nero, for there were vast numbers of slaves in Caesar’s household. However, despite their corrupted environment and lack of privilege, these people had experienced the grace of God and become “new creatures in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17). This would call for real commitment, courage and consistency.
 
What do these saints in Caesar’s house have to teach us? First of all, we learn that God can make saints out of the most unlikely people. At times when we look around, we are inclined to doubt whether it is possible for some individuals ever to be changed. But these transformed men and women, together with testimonies of countless others from the past the present, remind us of the life-changing power of the gospel of Christ. Let us despair of none; rather, let us believe that the same miracle which took place in the lives of these people in Caesar’s household, can happen to anyone, anywhere.
 
Then we see that God has, and needs, His witnesses everywhere. From every walk of life we find there are those who are loyal to the Lord Jesus. Often standing alone and sometimes ridiculed for their faith, God has His faithful servants. They are like Joseph, living a godly life in a pagan land, or like Daniel and his friends, standing true to God in a heathen environment.
 
These saints in Caesar’s household also teach that it is possible to be a witness for the Lord anywhere, even in the most unlikely place, whether it happens to be in professional life, in a hospital, in a sporting environment, a university or on a building site.
 
Let us then apply the text to our own situations. The majority of Christians find themselves at some time in an unsympathetic, ungodly environment. It is in this situation that God wants us to be His witnesses. At times we may be tempted to think that it would be much easier to live for Christ if circumstances were more favourable, but God asks that we be true to Him just where we are. God needs His witnesses everywhere and it is His right to put you and me just where He needs us. Indeed, He is counting on us to be His witnesses among people who might otherwise never come to know Him. 
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  Since 1983 he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.