Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

April 11, 2010

What Price Would I Pay?

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

History records the persecution that early Christians endured.  Many fled their homes and lived in caves.  Many were imprisoned.  Many were tortured and publicly displayed.  Some were beheaded, sawed in half, dragged to death behind horses, and many other methods that need not be described.  These Christians paid that price because they would not recant or deny their faith in Jesus Christ.

Down through the centuries there are stories of persecutions.  As one studies history and moves more to our day, the price might not be as severe, but there are still those who are suffering for their faith. 

My forebearers made decisions to stand for their faith.  My direct line, on my maternal side, can be documented to Scotland as early as 880 A.D.  The family was the principal possessor of the Isle of Bute, near Glasgow.

The family were Covenanters.  The Covenanters were a movement that promoted presbyterianism as a form of church government.  This is a congregational government where the people in the church make decisions.  The Covenanters opposed the episcopacy form of church government, which was favored and pressured upon the church by the Scottish government.  The episcopacy form called for bishops which were, in reality, controlled by the Scottish crown.

These Covenanters were persecuted.  Many succumbed to the pressure and relinquished their opposition.  There were some who felt  strongly that the church must be controlled by Jesus Christ, rather than government.  These dissenters were sought to stand trial.  Among these were four brothers, one of whom is my sixth great-grandfather.

In 1666, these four brothers escaped Scotland in a blinding snow storm, fleeing in an open boat to the northern coast of Ireland.  They understood that leaving Scotland, they were forfeiting all their lands and possessions.  In the next few years that followed, they met and married Scottish lasses who escaped with their families from Scotland.

However, the Irish, strong Catholics, were not totally accepting of the Scots.  They viewed the Covenanters as heathen and did not allow  intermingling among the people.  The Covenanters forged ahead with their faith, and by the 18th century had built several churches.  However, soon many of the ministers, who would not succumb to pressure, were forced out of their pulpits and threatened.

This persecution came as a result of Ireland being under the control of the English crown and an attempt by the English to stamp out Catholicism in Ireland in favor of establishing the Church of England.  The English saw the Covenanters as a threat like the Catholics, and so these Presbyterians, as they were now called, suffered also.

My family left Ireland during this era and came to America.  They settled in  Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, in an area which is now Cumberland County.   Spotsylvania, today, was the original  settlement of my ancestors.  It is noted that almost every generation of the family produced a minister.  (Interesting sidebar:  Almost 250 years later, I would be privileged to preach two revivals in the oldest Baptist church in that state, located in Lancaster County.)

You might not be interested in this family history, but I used it to ask myself the question,  “What price would I pay for my faith?”  I must seriously consider how I would stand against persecution, especially to the point of giving up all my possessions.  Would I truly surrender my life in the face of death?  It is so easy to say the words of faithfulness.  It can be something different at the moment of trial!  Simon Peter said to Christ that he would never deny or turn away.  Yet, we know he backed away!

May God grant that it will not come to such a test for any of us.  Yet, there are believers in other lands, today, who are facing such decisions!  As we pray for them, may we be committed to such faithfulness!

“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  (2 Timothy 3:12)  “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  (Matthew 5:10-12)



1 Comment »

  1. Love, love this! May there continue to be a minister in the coming generations too.

    Comment by jjr — April 12, 2010 @ 3:48 pm | Reply

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