Recently, I’ve been trying to teach my kids a bit about church history. Not the most thrilling subject for them (as they’ve reminded me), but there are so many valuable lessons to be learned from faithful saints who have gone before us.
One of my heroes of the faith is a man named Athanasius. He was a bishop in Alexandria, Egypt, in a time when the church was finally free from Roman persecution. But no sooner was the pressure from the outside relieved when there began to be pressure from within the church. A faction of heretical thinkers, Arians, threatened to divide the church with their false views of Jesus. Athanasius stood for the truth, but it cost him dearly. Although he was a bishop for a lengthy time (45 years), he spent over 17 of those years in exile. Different Roman emperors were sympathetic with the Arians and so as each new regime came and went he was either allowed to return to his home or he was forced into exile in the desert. He was exiled five different times, not to mention countless other times when he was forced to flee because of threats to his life.
All in all, Athanasius never really had the chance to “settle” in his ministry. He lived with a constant sense of urgency, never knowing if each day might be his last chance to minister and to share the truth.
I think there are a lot of lessons we can learn from Athanasius faithfulness. One would be the value of the truth over our own comfort. Athanasius could have simply agreed with the Arians and saved himself a lot of trouble. But he stood for the truth, no matter the cost.
Another lesson is urgency. If we knew that we only had one more day to minister to the people God has put in our path, what would we do differently?
What other lessons do you see from the life of this faithful servant?