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In the 4th century a guy named Eusebius wrote The History Of the Church where he described how one time Caesar Galerius made a decree that everyone needed to ease up on the persecution of Christians.

 

Some background will help.

 

You see, Galerius was a known for …

 

Hating.

 

Loathing.

 

Hating.

 

Loathing.

 

Hating.

 

Hating.

 

HATING.

 

… And notoriously murdering Christians.  History tells us that he was a die hard pagan who hated the idea of God so much so that even before he became emperor, he persuaded the emperor of his time to persecute anyone associated with the Christian faith.

 

Kill them.

 

Destroy them.

 

Throw them in prison.

 

Do whatever needed to be done to eliminate them.

 

Want to see his picture?  HA.  I feel like I could definitely beat this guy up …

 

 

Long story short, towards the end of his life on April 30, 311 he became terribly ill and feared that his sickness was from the hand of the Christian God who he had persecuted for so long.  

 

“Surely God is out to get me!”, he thought.

 

As a result, he issued the above mentioned decree that would lift the persecution and bring some reprieve and tolerance to the Christian community.

 

This is how the decree opened …

 

“The emperor Caesar, Galerius, Valerius, Maximanus, Invictus, Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Germanicus Maximus, Egypticus Maximus, Phoebicus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Persecus Maximus, Persecus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Armenicus Maximus, Medicus Maximus, Holder Of Tribunical Authority for the 20th Time, Emperor for the 19th, Consul for the 8th, Pater  Patriae Pro-Consul says …”

 

No joke, THIS is how the decree opened because THIS is how Galerius wanted to be addressed.

 

NOT as Galerius.

 

NOT as Mr.Galerius.

 

NOT as Sir Galerius.

 

NOT as Your Honor.

 

NOT as Caesar.

 

BUT.

 

As …

 

The emperor Caesar, Galerius, Valerius, Maximanus, Invictus, Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Germanicus Maximus, Egypticus Maximus, Phoebicus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Persecus Maximus, Persecus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Armenicus Maximus, Medicus Maximus, Holder Of Tribunical Authority for the 20th Time, Emperor for the 19th, Consul for the 8th, Pater  Patriae Pro-Consul.

 

Crazy, right?

 

In his book “Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes” Kenneth Bailey says that “this is very much how Caesar understood himself and is no doubt the way he wanted and expected to be addressed.  Such manner was deemed appropriate and continued in the Middle East through the 19th century.”

 

Galerius …

 

WANTED.

 

And.

 

EXPECTED.

 

… To be addressed with such long and repetitive titles because that’s how he saw himself – worthy of many words, worthy of many titles, and he wanted people to be hesitant and full of fear in his presence.

 

And THIS is why Jesus told His disciples to keep their prayers short.  

 

You see, Caesar considered himself to be a god and so did the people that he ruled over, but Jesus wanted His disciples to know that their God, the Creator of the Universe, was no Caesar.  

 

 

He doesn’t need long salutations.

 

He doesn’t need His ego stroked with a long list of names.

 

He doesn’t need prayers with tons of words that no one can pronounce or understand.

 

He doesn’t need our approach to Him to be just right, to be just so.

 

Jesus wanted His disciples to know that God doesn’t need any of that and that the one who prays should talk to God in a simple fashion.  As He said, “don’t heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do.”

 

What kind of empty phrases?

 

“As The emperor Caesar, Galerius, Valerius, Maximanus, Invictus, Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Germanicus Maximus, Egypticus Maximus, Phoebicus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Sarmenticus Maximus, Persecus Maximus, Persecus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Carpicus Maximus, Armenicus Maximus, Medicus Maximus, Holder Of Tribunical Authority for the 20th Time, Emperor for the 19th, Consul for the 8th, Pater  Patriae Pro-Consul.”

 

… Those kinds.

 

The book of Ecclesiastes was written by (maybe) Solomon and some other people and there’s a verse in chapter 5 that says something similar …

 

“Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you upon earth; therefore let your words be few.”

 

 

You see, God is so big and so full of wisdom and knowledge and awareness of your situation and my situation and the situations of everyone, everywhere that He doesn’t need us to go on and on and on about them.  He doesn’t need us to fill Him in on every detail over and over and over again.  He doesn’t need us to impress Him with our words or our booming prayer voice.  He doesn’t need us to sound good.  He doesn’t need us to not stumble over our words.  He doesn’t need us to even make sense, really.

 

Nope.

 

All He needs is for us to come to Him.

 

Sometimes with a simple prayer, “Lord help me.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

“Come, Holy Spirit.”

 

“Guide me.”

 

“I can’t do this on my own.”

 

Sometimes with just … quietness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… One of the things I’ve been learning is that sometimes your silence can be the most powerful prayer because it’s not about your words or your feelings or your thoughts or your emotions, but about you simply sitting and resting in the presence of the One who is full of wisdom and knowledge and awareness of all of our situations and allowing yourself to be surrounded by that wisdom, surrounded by that knowledge and awareness.  Letting it enter you and rearrange you and push you and prod you and nudge you and guide you.

 

 

I don’t know about you, but my life is drowning in words …

 

Emails.

 

Text messages.

 

Facebook.

 

Twitter (now with 280 characters!).

 

Instagram.

 

Papers.

 

Books.

 

Newspapers.

 

… And sometimes with all of the words that are swirling around, they become cheap.  

 

I think Jesus is trying to help us regain the power of our words and give them the proper weight that they deserve.  Rather than using way too many or using them flippantly or without much thought or care, He’s encouraging us to use less so that our words are like pearls, carefully strung onto a strong cord.

 

One.

 

By.

 

One.

 

By.

 

One.

 

By.

 

One.

 

Such words are few, but they are powerful and beautiful.  They aren’t like Caesar who is full of himself and or his decree that is full of nonsense and full of meaningless phrases and empty ideas.  Rather, they are examined and thought out and full of care and directed at the One who knows all.

 

God isn’t like any other gods and He certainly isn’t like Caesar.  When Jesus told His disciples not to babble on and on like the Gentiles, I think that’s what He was getting at.

 

Our God is different.

 

Our God is better.

 

Our God is greater.

 

He’s not out to put pressure on us and He certainly doesn’t want to us to approach Him with fear, hoping that we muttered the right combination of names and titles and words so that He’ll accept us and welcome us and love us.

 

Not at all.

 

Your God isn’t like Caesar, and that should encourage you big time; let your words be few, and have a great week.

 

– Glenn

 

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