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The Martyrdom of Telemachus Still Inspires the Christian to Engage the Culture

Do you have a wall that you need to climb over? What is meant by that question? Are you familiar with the story of Telemachus the monk, whose martyrdom ended the Roman games?

According to church historian, Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrrhus, in his Ecclesiastical History, when Telemachus was in Rome he went to the stadium when the Roman games were in progress. Appalled by the spectacle, he jumped the wall and tried to “stop the men who were wielding their weapons against one another. The spectators of the slaughter were indignant, and inspired by the triad fury of the demon who delights in those bloody deeds, stoned the peacemaker to death.” The Emperor Honorius, impressed by the courage of Telemachus, named him among the “victorious martyrs,” and put an end to that impious spectacle.

Telemachus could have stayed secluded in the monastery. When he entered Rome he could have just gone about his business. When he did go see the spectacle in the coliseum he could have silently slipped out during or after the games were over. Instead, Telemachus climbed over the wall and was martyred for his courageous stand.

In America, it is unlikely that a Christian will be martyred for standing against the culture, for truth. You may be persecuted for your stand, you may suffer material loss or emotional pain, but you will probably not be martyred. The sad fact is that some of your worst persecution could come from those who call themselves brothers in Christ, but are not willing to risk being ostracized or losing any of their earthly goods. Some of your Christian friends, out of guilt, are as likely to lash out at you rather than fulfill the call to engage the culture themselves.

Do you have a wall that you need to climb over? Has God given you a heart for ending one of the gross evils that are marking the American culture? Christian, to engage this culture may not even require that you involve yourself in a great controversy. The state has overreached its scriptural authority and taken on responsibilities that rightly belong to the realm of the family and/or the church. Maybe you have a burden to help offer scholarships to help Christian children pay for a Christian education, or maybe you are burdened to help the widow or the orphan, so they do not have to bow at the altar of Caesar for food, heat or other necessities.

Telemachus illustrates that one man can make a difference. Every time one more Christian engages the culture in another arena, or coliseum, America will be one step closer to the righteousness that God calls the nations to. Go ahead Christian, it’s up to you, climb over a wall, maybe your courage will be the inspiration necessary to end a spectacle in your culture.