COURAGE UNDER FIRE
Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, was an early Christian leader. At that time the Roman Empire ruled most of the known world. In order to be a loyal member of the Empire, citizens had to say, “Caesar is Lord.” Most early Christians refused to make that affirmation. By the time Polycarp was 86 years of age, the Empire had begun to persecute Christians who refused to call Caesar their lord. A captain, backed up by troops, knocked on Polycarp’s door. The old bishop was so respected that the captain begged him to say that Caesar is lord. “You don’t even have to mean it,” said the captain. “Just say it. We don’t want to harm you.”
Polycarp replied, “Jesus has been my God for 86 years, and he has never betrayed me yet. How can I now betray my Lord and my Savior Jesus Christ?”
They tried him to a stake and set it on fire. Unwaveringly, he would not deny his Lord.