Polycarp...my new hero
So I have a new hero. If he were living on earth today, he would be appx. 1,939...Wow. His fame? He isn't known for platinum records, home runs, Super Bowl wins, net worth, or government office. His name? Polycarp. You're like, "Dude, that's a weird name." Yeah, unusual for the 21st century, but he would have probably thought "LeBron," "Kobe," "Favre," "Obama," or "Palin" weren't stylin' either. His name means "fruitful." His date? Polycarp was born around A.D. 69 and died about 86 years later in A.D. 155. Yeah, I know...old school. So what pumps me up about some guy that lived way back in the day?
First, historians believe he was ordained and discipled by the apostle John...yeah that guy, the same one that followed Jesus and authored 5 books in the New Testament...yeah THAT GUY. Polycarp was taught the faith by him. That got my attention right out of the gate.
Next, he was as straight up as they come. Tradition tells of a story when Polycarp ran across Marcion, a dude who rejected the parts of the New Testament (most of it) that contradicted with his theology. He came to the city of Smyrna, where Polycarp lived, and upon seeing Polycarp, asked him, "Do you recognize me?" To this, my hero replied, "I recognize you as the firstborn of Satan." Wow...yeah, that's my hero!
The greatest part however of Polycarp's life that provokes the most respect and props to this early church father is how he went out (his martyrdom). I am taking a church history class at school right now, and my teacher, Dr. Butler, told us a little about Polycarp's death and assigned us reading on it. Basically what happened was that during a pagan festival, the people in Smyrna cried out for the Christians to be killed. Because Polycarp was the bishop of Smyrna at this time, the crowd cried out for him to be put to death as well. Polycarp was hid by believers for a short while, and during this time, he had a vision that his pillow was on fire. He concluded and announced to others that he was going to be burned alive. The authorities then caught up with him. Choosing not to run away, Polycarp welcomed his arrestors and gave them dinner. He then prayed for them and many other people for two hours before leaving the house.
When Polycarp was brought before the Proconsul, the man pleaded with Polycarp to burned incense to the gods, worship the Emperor, and renounce Christ, but Polycarp resfused. The Proconsul, out of respect of Polycarp's age, again pleaded with him to renounce Christ. To this, my hero responded: "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who has saved me?" After being threathened with lions and fire, Polycarp still refused to recant and looked at the Proconsul and said, "Whatever you have, just bring it." He was then led to the stake but would not let them nail him to it because he said that God would allow him to be stay in the fire. He died, faithful to the Lord Jesus and was blessed to share in the sufferings of our Lord.
(for the complete story, click here )
Wow, what a Christian. It was the Christ-life inside him that made him who he was on earth. Lord Jesus, may I be faithful before you as my new brother/father-in-the-faith hero Polycarp was. In Jesus' Name, Amen.