Pax Dei

Pax Dei

Written by Sarah Stoffel

Acts 5:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Caesar Augustus may be famous biblically for the mandate that sent Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem during an imminent pregnancy, but one of his greatest legacies is the institution of Pax Romana, or the Peace of Rome. Pax Romana was a period of around 200 years before, during, and after the birth of Jesus in the Roman Empire where peace and prosperity prevailed.

Up to this point in history, there had never been a time of peace like this. Violence, rebellion, and religious persecutions still happened, but overall long-standing peace and less time at war, brought important advancements like safe travel, modern road systems, and ease of communication.

Suppression of early Christians was still happening, though the gospel was popular because it was true, spread by eye-witness accounts, and the continued proof of miracles. Persecution came from both within the Jewish community itself, and the greater world at large. The emperor Nero began singling out Christians to torture and condemn. Peter and John were arrested by temple guards and thrown in jail (Acts 4), and Stephen, an early Christian who was appointed to serve the local widows, and who did “great wonders and miracles among the people” (Acts 6:8) was falsely accused, and stoned to death by members of the very synagogue he sought to save.

Jesus commanded the disciples to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”, and Pax Romana paved the way (literally!) for this to happen. We have the advantage of looking back on history and seeing God’s providential hand create a setting, even before Jesus was born, where the Good News could “turn the world upside down.”

Early Christians didn’t get to look at all the factors that allowed the gospel to spread so effectively. They had daily cares, families, ministries, and day-to-day survival that took up their time. They also likely never saw the global impact the persecution that drove them from their homeland had on the organic spread of the Gospel.  They may never have realized that a time of Roman peace would provide them roads that connected towns, and a common language to pass the letters of the apostles to a broader audience. They simply obeyed and hoped.

Maybe God has allowed difficult circumstances or physical limitations in your life that you struggle to accept. Brothers and sisters, we may never grasp the purpose of some things in life that happen to us. I’ve had to lay down my own “Why God?” questions at the throne. Let the history we know be a pillar of remembrance that points us to the fact that God is sovereign.

Examine the “Why God?” questions that you’ve allowed a seat in your mind. We serve a God who is a Master Story Weaver. He was working, is working, and will work ALL things out. Let this hope be in you.

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