Paul, Apostle of ChristDVD - 2018
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I only see what it's become. Nero's Rome. Nero's madness.
-It'll pass. He can't be emperor forever.
There is a darkness over this city now that was not present when Paul and I were here last. Nero's cruelties have worsened. He holds his circus games with more regularity. Men, women, children torn apart by wild beasts to the laughter of the crowd.
-Oh, my God.
Nero says the reason is to show the Roman people that these followers of Christ were responsible for burning half the city to the ground.
We were asked to build a community in this city, to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, to love this city, but I can no longer see a clear answer for a way forward. What does Paul say?
-That this is something that falls to each man and woman in their thoughts and prayers. Some of you have families, have children. I understand you want to protect them or feel called to stay.
You know you will die here in Rome. Yet you are certain of the truth.
-I know the one in whom I believe. And I am certain of the joy of where I go.
Yes, but I don't see the same conviction in the others, Paul.
-These men, these women, these children. I cannot fix their faith.
You can inspire their faith, just as your... Your letters always have.
-You want me to write another letter?
It's time to get the blood flowing. The Way is growing. There are men, women, children now that have never met you, that will never meet you, so there must be a handwritten account of these Acts. It is for the same reason that I undertook an account of our Lord Jesus Christ for Theophilus. So that he would know the story of Christ, and now the people must know your story.
We were Romans before we were Christian. This is our home.
-I do not take this decision lightly. But I believe that there is more good to be done outside of Rome.
--Aquila's right. But I think there's also some good in staying. It's true, we've never seen Rome darker. But if we abandon it, will it not be cast into total darkness?
You know what happens to orphans in this city. They're left on the streets to die. Or they're forced into prostitution at the temples. There are widows on the street corners begging for coins to feed their children. If we abandon them, who will feed them? Who will care?
-Nero is responsible for the deaths in my family, not Rome.
My life did not begin with hate. I don't recall the feeling as a child. I always felt myself to be more a sheep in the midst of wolves. Innocent as a dove. I was in the temple keeping true to my fasts, my prayers. Stephen was out in the streets, bringing charity to widows and orphans, preaching truth to drunks and the crippled. I was blameless in the ancient law of Israel, while Stephen was blaspheming on the very holy ground of God.
-So what did you do?
We spread lies, created an uproar that had him brought to trial.
-What did he argue?
That Jesus was the Messiah. And the temple of God was no longer the only place where God could be worshiped.
What do you really know about these Christians?
-I rarely find them in the establishments that I frequent. But I do know they have a strange affection for poor widows and ugly orphans.
This is a world in the grip of evil. This is Nero's circus. It's passionate hate. Blood washing down the street, widows, orphans starving to death. Babies born with the slightest defect are disposed, dispatched, discarded. This world doesn't know a thing about love.
-And so you would give up on the world when Christ did not give up on us?
-Love is the only way. Love that suffers long. Love that is kind, that does not envy, that is not proud. Love that does not dishonor, that does not seek for itself. Love that is not easily angered. Love that rejoices in truth. Love that never delights in evil. Love that protects, trusts, hopes, endures all things. That kind of love. Give me your hand. Do you understand? Then write it down. I once wanted vengeance, like Cassius and these young men. I know this path of destruction more than anyone.
Why do you blame yourselves and not the ones who have murdered him?
None of us here have walked with Christ. But Paul has followed him longer than us all. I have watched him be beaten, I have watched him be stoned and flogged, and never once did he raise his finger against his oppressors. Let peace be with you, for we live in the world, but we do not wage war as the world does. Peace begins with you, Cassius. Love is the only way.
You are much more of a soldier than a preacher. A man with a great deal of blood on his hands.
-Sins of a past life, by God's grace washed away.
Sin, grace, mercy. Your philosophical scribblings tell me nothing about why the Christians look to you as their leader and why Nero singled you out as the chief enemy of Rome.
I went to the temple to the chief priests, to obtain authority to go to Damascus and arrest all those that followed the Way. I was determined to be God's hand of justice. His wrath.
-You believed what you were doing was out of a love for God.
A blind love. I only knew the law. If water flows down a mountain, what besides a miracle could cause it to flow back?
-The road to Damascus was your miracle.
Perhaps you're not only plotting an escape, but an uprising.
-For what purpose?
Vengeance. Followers of your cult are being beaten, raped and killed for sport.
-It is for the Lord's sake that we face death all day, that we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.
Even the sheep will revolt if whipped hard enough.
Mauritius... I have heard outrageous rumors about this man. A sorcerer of the dark arts, a charmer of snakes and demons, a man capable of healing the crippled with just a touch of his cloak.
No, my point, you don't make a man your leader just because he trips and falls in the road and then travels around a bit and says a few things. There must be more to the story. You need to get him to confess something.
-What else would he say that he hasn't already spoken at his trial?
A man on trial will say whatever he can to save his hide.
-But he has been convicted. He will be executed.
No man wants to leave this life without a legacy, without boasting of his own glorious deeds so the world can remember him forever. Appeal to his arrogance. Perhaps.
You used to pray to the gods of Greece, just as he does the gods of Rome. In your account of the Lord, why did you write so often of the poor and the outcasts and foreigners?
-I guess I wanted others to understand God's kingdom is open to us all, that his mercy is for everyone.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds more.
Paul, the servant of God, P1 of 2:
Rumors abound in the streets about your powers. Perhaps it is these supernatural things that are seen as such a threat by Nero.
-I have no powers.
Then the stories are not true?
-They are all true.
So why do your people boast about your powers?
-I've never said these things in my life to boast. I boast only of my weaknesses, so that God's power may rest on me.
Very few men admit weakness. Certainly none boast of it.
-I boast of it gladly, for this power is sown in weakness.
Paul, the servant of God, P2 of 2:
I assume you have earned riches. Land. Influence amongst your people. Maybe it is what has roused Nero's jealousy.
-I've never taken a single coin for my work for Christ.
-The good news of salvation is free. It was given to me freely, and I give it away for free.
So you have certain powers, but claim to have no authority to use them. You've done miraculous things, yet do not boast for glory. You make no wages for your work. You're sounding less like a leader and more like a slave.
-A slave that has been set free.
We're Romans. We're already free men.
-All men are a slave to something.
That Greek, he is risking his life for you. Why?
-He believes people should know the certainties of my life.
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