That’s right, everybody’s favorite day of the week: Book Review Wednesday!
I’ll admit, I’m still slogging my way through Eusebius’ “Ecclesiastical History.” I just finished volume 1, on to round 2.
But here’s something that caught my eye while reading Eusebius. He has a long section about the early martyrs of the church, around the turn of the first century. In gory and often gruesome detail he describes the martyrs’ method of torture and death. If you want to read it for yourself, go ahead. But just imagine the movie “Gladiator.”
Whenever a Christian would stand firm in the faith and would continuing professing Christ as Lord in the face of pain and death, Eusebius had a peculiar way of describing the martyr. He says that they wouldn’t give in because they were “trained in the faith” or that “their training in the Lord was great” and many other things along those lines.
Training connotes a dedicated, diligent, and habitual practice in order to perfect a particular aspect of one’s life. Professional athletes train for years, we train our dogs, and we potty-train our children. So why aren’t we “training” Christians anymore? It seems as if we are much more comfortable with saying “I believe in Jesus” than saying “I am training in the faith.”
Perhaps that’s because training is difficult. It is easier to say “I believe in football” than it is to train to become a football player. Training takes practice. It takes hard work and diligent. It means that we’re not going to get it right every time. It’s physically and mentally taxing. But that’s the point – that our lives are utterly set upon living the holy life. Then, when the moment comes when we need in most, our training won’t let us down and we’ll keep the faith.
One thought on “it’s that time again”
I think you're right. It's about difficulty. But it's also a humble statement. To say “I am training in the faith” is to admit I don't have it all. To say “I believe in Jesus” sounds rather like I've finished, gotten it, done.
It is no wonder to me that Americans don't like to say their religion is a work in progress.