By David A. Sargent
On February 2, 1984, President Ronald Reagan spoke at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
After greeting the assembly which included many U.S. Senators and Representatives, President Reagan said: “In a world today that is so torn with strife where the divisions seem to be increasing, not people coming together, within countries, divisions within the people, themselves and all, I wonder if we have ever thought about the greatest tool that we have -- that power of prayer and God's help.”
“This power of prayer,” continued President Reagan, “can be illustrated by a story that goes back to the fourth century…” Then he told about a monk that lived during the 4th century by the name of Telemachus. Telemachus had been living “in a little remote village, spending most of his time in prayer or tending the garden from which he obtained his sustenance,” when he, because he believed it to be God’s will, went to Rome.
When Telemachus arrived in Rome, President Reagan explained:
It was at a time of a festival in Rome. They were celebrating a triumph over the Goths. And he followed a crowd into the Coliseum, and then there in the midst of this great crowd, he saw the gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, “We who are about to die salute you.'' And he realized they were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowds. And he cried out, “In the name of Christ, stop!” And his voice was lost in the tumult there in the great Coliseum.
And as the games began, he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena. Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, “In the name of Christ, stop.” And they thought it was part of the entertainment, and at first they were amused. But then, when they realized it wasn't, they grew belligerent and angry. And as he was pleading with the gladiators, “In the name of Christ, stop,” one of them plunged his sword into his body. And as he fell to the sand of the arena in death, his last words were, “In the name of Christ, stop.”
And suddenly, a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand. A silence fell over the Coliseum. And then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow. And in the dead silence, everyone left the Coliseum. That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. Never again did anyone kill or did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.
One tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the tumult: “In the name of Christ, stop.” It is something we could be saying to each other throughout the world today. *
Peace. That’s what we need in the world today. Peace between countries, peace within countries, peace in our homes, peace within each of us, and even peace with God.
That’s why God sent His Son into the world: that we may have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2), peace with others (cf. Ephesians 2:13-22) , and peace within ourselves (Philippians 4:6-7).
It all begins with having peace with God. It is our sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2), but Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins so that we can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).
God will forgive and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of their sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7).
“In the name of Christ, stop!” Stop fighting against God and one another. Surrender and submit to the will of God, and then share His grace with everyone around you.
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org
* “Remarks at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast” made by President Ronald Reagan on February 2, 1984.