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“One cannot truly live until he knows what he’s willing to die for.”

When I first saw that there was a movie about Polycarp, I was very excited, because I don’t know a whole lot about history (which my history-major twin sister is probably constantly annoyed by) but this was a guy that I had heard of, so of course I had to put it on my list. I’ll admit that it took a long time before I finally got to actually watching it, because my computer has some trouble streaming movies sometimes, but I finally did and I have to say that I was overall generally (that’s redundant) accepting toward how it was done. This isn’t an action-packed film where your heart’s thumping with anticipation at every scene or anything, and it wasn’t an excessively dramatic movie where you’re sobbing the entire time because of the extreme emotional element. However, it was very true in many ways regarding what was preached (quotes will be added below as exhibition). I was disappointed at how modern a few of the props looked, for instance, the pillows, but if you don’t pay too much attention to them, it’s not so bad. And it seemed quite accurate to what I know of Polycarp, which, honestly, is not much. To give you an overview of Polycarp, he was an old man who lived in Smyrna after the death of the apostle John (his former mentor) who was burned at the stake for his faith in Jesus. That’s about the shortest summary you can get.

(I now realize that this isn’t about the movie at all, but rather what I learned from it. Oh well.)

-“You can’t let what others think keep you silent.”-

I think this quote is really straightforward and there’s not much I can expand on here, but it’s a good reminder. People are always saying that you shouldn’t care what others think about you, and yet a part of you always does, especially if you’re young. It’s REALLY hard to break out of this mindset when you’re young, because there’s so much pressure to be cool and you want to be accepted and liked by your peers and all that. Almost everybody has struggled with this. The way it was brought up in the movie, however, was more faith-based. In those times, and even in some places around the world today, people are literally persecuted for believing in Jesus ~ and I’m not talking about verbal persecution, like being put down or laughed at for what you believe in. I’m talking torture, death, humiliation, rejection by your family and friends, that sort of thing. But if you have the love of Jesus in your heart, you can’t keep quiet about him, no matter what might happen to you. Just like the Anthem Lights song “Can’t Shut Up” (I feel like I don’t mention Anthem Lights nearly enough considering how amazing they are). This love and acceptance that you find in a relationship with Jesus can be, will be, should be, and IS for so many people such a life-changing experience that they literally can not stop talking about Him and what He has done for them, regardless of their personal safety. That’s why there are so many that have been martyred throughout history for their faith (if you want to read about them, check out the book Jesus Freaks by dc Talk!). I have a profound amount of respect for people who have shown such courage and faith, and I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to meet each and every one of them in heaven someday!

-“The stars are beautiful tonight. Have you ever tried to count them?”

“No one can manage that.”

“God can. God can not only count them, but He has a name for every single one of them. He knows your name, too.”-

None of us can count all the stars in the sky, for a number of reasons: there are a bloody LOT of them; we can only see a small portion of them from our position on earth; it would probably take longer than the duration of a night; and most likely we would accidentally re-count a few or lose our place and have to start again. And we are even farther from knowing the names of each one, even the names that we humans have given to them. We know about Betelgeuse and Rigel and the North Star and some of the more popular ones, but we can’t even begin to learn the names that God has for them. That is so cool to me, and I hope that in heaven He will let me know the names of some of them. Sometimes I stand outside at night and look at my star (everybody has a star that is “theirs,” right? RocketMan reference) and wonder what its name is. Obviously I’ve looked it up online ~ who wouldn’t? ~ but I forgot what it was, and that’s not it’s real name anyway. Which just gets me more excited because that carries me into thinking, maybe God has a different name for each of us too, like Simon Peter. Maybe in heaven He will welcome us with the name He chose for us, not the one our parents chose. That is awesome to me because obviously that name will fit us perfectly ~ God chose it, after all, and He knows us better than anyone!

My excitement is getting a bit out of hand, so I think I’d better move on.

-“What makes your God any more real than his gods?”

Now, that is a good question. Those gods were made by hands of men. They have eyes, but cannot see. Ears, but cannot hear. Mouths, but cannot speak. Our God sees all things, hears our every prayer, and His Word endures forever. The true God made the hands of men.”-

I put this here because it seems like the right explanation for the question. I look at statues of gods in other cultures (not often ~ this is not a regular pastime for me or anything) and wonder how someone could really believe that it could do anything at all to help them ~ or hurt them. I understand that someone could easily turn this around on me and say, “Well, how can you believe in a God you can’t even see?” You can see yours ~ congrats! But that’s all you can do. Your statue doesn’t move (unless it’s a Weeping Angel…let’s just move past that right now). It doesn’t talk or fight wars or give to the less fortunate or play the kazoo or do anything at all really. (I don’t know if my God plays the kazoo either, but I bet He could if He wanted to.) But at least you can see it sitting on your mantel. I can see mine, too, I just have to look a little harder. I see Him in the way He works through people, the things they do for each other, the pure beauty and wonder of this world He has made, and in emotions that we humans would not have otherwise ~ love, joy, hope, faith. Those come from Him.

-“I thought I was strong enough to withstand adversity.”

“We are weak. In our own strength, we fail. It is by God’s grace that we can do that which does not come naturally.”

“I don’t deserve His grace.”

“None of us do. That’s why it’s grace.”-

Um, HELLO. That’s the definition of grace: getting something you don’t deserve ~ or, depending on the situation, NOT getting what you DO deserve. Hasn’t anyone ever let you off the hook when they should have gotten angry for something you did? That’s grace. That’s what God did, and more. He sent His Son to pay a debt He did not owe because we had a debt we could not pay.

And then there’s the idea of strength, which I’m going to talk about under the next quote.

-“Why do you think I speak so much of God’s grace? Why do you think I speak so much of God’s love?”

“I don’t know.”

“Because perfect love casts out fear. My weakness reminds me of my need to rely on Christ.”-

“When I am weak, then He is strong.” Paul says this over and over in His letters to churches, whether by just flat-out saying it or by implication. I’ve heard stories of people who were so shy they couldn’t say a word to anyone suddenly, by the strength that God gives them, going to speak in front of assemblies full of people. The love God has for us and bestows upon us IS perfect; I have felt it and I can’t tell you how powerful and wonderful and life-changing it really is. When you have that love in your heart, your fear withers in its presence. You feel empowered, but humbled because you know that none of that power is really yours ~ it’s all God. It’s all Him! And you’re not even disappointed that it’s not at all about you! The love and joy (because if you’ve got that love, there’s no way you’re not feeling the joy) abounding in your heart is stronger than even your worst fear. That’s something I cling to, because I have one weakness in particular (I’m not saying I’ve only got one weakness total, just for clarification) that has dragged me down and hurt me my entire life, and I have had no choice but to rely on Christ’s strength to help me conquer it. That has drawn me closer to Him than I ever could have been if I didn’t have this specific weakness. It’s a work in progress, but I can see the progression.

-“One can always hope.”

“One can always pray.”-