"Whoever seeks to save his life shall lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel shall save it."
Recently, I heard the story of Saint Telemachus and the Coliseum...famous for being told by Ronald Reagan once upon a time. For those who are unaware, Telemachus was a monk around 400AD. Specifically, he was an ascetic, or hermit-monk. Telemachus spent long days in thought and prayer way from people. Though hardly a posh life, it was a life he enjoyed. One day, it occurred to Telemachus that he was not being selfless in seeking after God, but in fact he was being self-serving.
After all, Telemachus was doing what he loved to do...but not precisely what Christians are called to do. Telemachus reasoned that cities are full of people, and people are full of sin, and God wants sinner, so to the city he must go. Though Rome was "officially" a Christian nation by 400AD, there were yet vestiges of the pagan past clinging on to civic life; none more glaringly so than the gladiator matches of the Coliseum. Though Christians were no longer being thrown to lions in those days, hundreds still flocked to the bloodsport of professionals and slaves...shedding blood for profit and entertainment.
It was on such a bloody afternoon that Telemachus found himself at the stadium. As the melee began, Telemachus was overcome. Running out onto the battleground he ran between the fighters, urging them to stop. The fighters paused...bewildered. The crowd roared in disapproval, and stoned Telemachus to death for his efforts. Telemachus was the last man to die in a gladiator battle, for on that day Emperor Honorius declared Telemachus a martyr and decreed an end to the gladiator games. Though he may have lived a long and pious life as a holy-hermit, Telemachus is remembered for all time by what he accomplished for being unwilling to remain comfortable.
Be it as a church, or in our own personal walks of faith, let us to be cautious of becoming too fixed in our hearth and home. It is not to the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed that Christ offers rest, but to the weary and burdened (Matt. 11:28).