“Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord.”
– Lamentations 3:40
During the days of the Roman Empire, the famous Coliseum of Rome was often filled with spectators during the state games. They would watch as human beings battled against wild beasts and against one another unto death. The crowd found its greatest delight in the death of human beings. During the games of A.D. 404, as the crowd watched the contest, a Syrian monk named Telemachus left the stands and went onto the Coliseum floor. He was so undone by the disregard for the value of human life that he cried out, “In the name of God, this thing is not right! In the name of God, this thing must stop.”
The enraged crowd mocked this man and threw objects at him. Caught up in the frenzy and excitement, the gladiators attacked him with a sword, and Telemachus fell dead to the ground.
The Coliseum fell silent. For the first time, the people, with their insatiable desire for blood, recognized the horror of what they called entertainment. Telemachus ignited a flame in the hearts and consciences of thinking people. Consequently, history records that, because of his courageous act, within months, the gladiatorial games began to decline and, shortly thereafter, simply passed from the scene. Why? Because one man dared to “search and try his ways, and return again to the Lord.” Telemachus spoke out for what he believed was right.
The admonition from Lamentations 3:40, in this week’s Pause Bible Reading Plan, includes the acknowledgement of sin on the part of the one crying out. The good news in all of this is that whenever a person will do as Jeremiah did, 1) search and examine his ways, 2) acknowledge their sin, 3) return to the Lord, then, vs. 58 establishes the good-news-outcome: “You, Lord, took up my case, You redeemed my life.”
It appears God called Telemachus to act. He was called to move out among people and deliver an offensive message. He dared to search the ways of Rome and, identifying with the sin of his generation, implored the people to return to the Lord because he believed what he said was right. His message was dangerous, it challenged the pleasures of the people of his day. Yes, he died, but his message prevailed.
The atmosphere in our nation presently, and even is sectors of the Church, almost seems at times to be as unruly and as vicious as the Roman games of A.D. 404. But let me assure you, while there appears to be plenty of gamesmanship to go around, the matter of individual souls and the soul of our nation is not a game. I’m not advocating that any of us become martyrs. Instead, I’m asking a question of myself and those who read this. As we search and examine our ways, “will we obey what the Lord calls us to do?” It’s the only way I know for the Lord to “take up my case, and redeem my life!”
Pastor Dan Hicks