And I say to you, anyone who acknowledges Me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God; but whoever denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. – Luke 12:8-9 HCSB
Two hundred years ago, in the southern French town of Aigues-Mortes, a young girl named Marie Durant was dragged before the court and charged with heresy. Marie was a Huguenot. She was bright, attractive and only fourteen years old. In those days, fourteen was marriageable. She was commanded to deny the Huguenot faith. She was not asked to commit any immoral act, sacrifice to an idol or even change her lifestyle significantly. She only had to say one French word – “J’abjure”. It means “I deny.” That was it. But she would not deny Christ. So she and thirty other women who were accused of the same crime of heresy were imprisoned in a tower by the sea.
“J’abjure.” It’s not a lot to say. Such a small price to pay for one’s freedom. She could have been at home in her village. She could have enjoyed the attentions of young suitors. Marriage and children were hers for the asking. But for thirty-eight years she continued to refuse to utter that short word. And instead of saying “J’abjure” she scratched into the stone walls of her dungeon “Resistez!” which means “Resist!”
We live in a time marked by unholy loves, persistent self-seeking and monumental indifference. We think of the nearly four decades that she survived in that hellish place and shake our heads in wonder. Imagine the agonizingly slow passage of time in such a place; time which consumed and dried the once-beautiful skin, atrophied the muscles, caused the joints to become stiff and the mind to become stupefied by lack of stimulation. To feel all this and yet persevere in stubborn refusal to give up on a matter of principle seems stupid to religiously relativistic people.
Being a Christian is more than attending church as long as it is socially useful; more than something to mark on a card; so much more than the petty squabbles over inconsequentials that characterize most churches. It is a deep, abiding passion for the Christ that confesses His lovely name not just once in a quick, fiery blaze of martyrdom, but day after day after day for decades. A true Christian places the name of Jesus Christ above all other names and would rather die than ever deny Him before others or deny Him access to a part of our lives.
If you ever find yourself wondering whether or not Christianity is real; if you begin to doubt because you have never met a person you considered to be truly changed by their faith – then meditate on what it would take for a teenager to show that much strength and character. Whatever it was, what would happen if you could unleash it upon YOUR soul?
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