She said to her father, “Whatever God pleases; for we are not established in our own power, but in His.”
Perpetua, 22 years of age, a new mom and young wife, a loved daughter, had a passion that defined her identity – a deep, submissive, and beckoning love for Jesus Christ – She was a Christian.
After being baptized into her new faith, she was taken prisoner by the Emperor in the year of 202 B.C.
No one could shake her from her identity as a follower of Jesus. Not even her father and son. Her father (at the time, not a Christian) begged Perpetua to save her life by offering a sacrifice of worship to the Emperor.
“Absolutely not!” was her stance. Her father used everything he could to change her mind, even reminding her of her baby boy who would be without a mother if she didn’t obey the command of the King.
While her heart was tormented by the concern of her son, Perpetua knew who she was in Christ. No relationship, no riches, nothing of earth distracted her from pleasing her Savior – her God – her only Hope – found in Jesus.
Her last words stood out to me; they were a powerful call to her family, “Stay true the faith, and love one another; do not be offended by my passion.” On March 7, 203, Perpetua was persecuted and killed for her faith. Knowing the power of Christ’s resurrection and the blessing that comes from participating in His sufferings, this young woman became like Jesus unto death. (Philippians 3:10).
The more I read about this woman, the more I want to be like her. Her life inspires me to be more true to my faith and not be moved by my identity struggles.
Some people just know who they are. They don’t budge from their identity. They, like Perpetua, are the most courageous people I know.
We can all struggle with our identity at times. I know I do. After reading this woman’s diary, I feel a little silly about the times I’m insecure about my looks, my abilities, etc. I can get bogged down into such superfluous worries; they distract me from who I am in Christ. This tactic is of Satan. If he can distract me, then I’m no longer living out my passion for Jesus.
Where Perpetua’s father used his relationship and her son’s survival to persuade her from her identity in Christ, Satan uses our appearances, achievements, and status in society. No matter the reason, this is a real battle for us.
Maybe you can relate? I’m sure I am not alone.
The book of Ephesians is such a great antidote to our struggle with identity; we find courage as Paul lists out the many descriptions of who we are in Jesus. While I’m not going to list out each, there are three that stand out to me.
“Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in trespasses – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:4-6 emphasis added).
Do you know what this means? We have been…
Made Alive With Christ – You are alive! You went from death to life when you gave your heart to Jesus. It doesn’t matter if life on earth is hard or threatening, your end is not death – it’s life!
Raised Up With Christ – You are not alone! This phrase “raised up” indicates we are a part of a holy and blameless community where no comparison, bickering, or condemnation is present.
Seated Us With Christ – You are significant! (Best part yet!) If God has prepared a seat for us with Jesus in heaven, we have worth!
I think that Perpetua knew this well. She banked her life on this promise. And we can too! No matter what you face, you are alive, raised up, and have a seat reserved with the Messiah!
When you feel distracted by Satan to focus on your faults, read Ephesians; list out everything you learn about your identity. “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…” (Ephesians 1:18).
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Photo By Leszek Glasner