One of the most devious deceits in history had to be when the faltering emperor of Rome, Nero set the Western side of the city ablaze in order to divert attention from his ineptness.
Apart from this perhaps being one of the greatest examples of overkill in all of history, it was definitely one of the most callous and cruel misdirections ever. Because diverting attention from himself wasn’t enough to take the focus off him—he also had to fan the flames of rumor using the single most powerful combustant ever devised for this purpose—gossip.
So, as history tells it, Nero not only sent hundreds out to torch Rome physically—he also sent hundreds out to torch the reputation of a new and feared group known as Christians. Knowing that most pagans already feared this fast growing movement of God and saw it as a threat to their pagan worship of Jupiter and Venus, Dionysus and other false gods adopted from Greek mythology—they were already ripe for a strategically placed whisper here and there. Most had no trouble pinning the blame on the followers of Jesus even though there wasn’t a shred of evidence to indicate they had anything to do with the fire that burned down half of Rome. Quite to the contrary—everything pointed to Nero himself. However, not inclined to let something as inconvenient as the facts get in the way, the most horrifying era of persecution the church has ever seen was underway and would last for nearly 300 years until the emperor, Constantine put an end to it.
By this time it had become common knowledge that Nero was responsible for the tragic fire that burned the great city and killed thousands, but persecuting Christians had blossomed into sort of a national past time by then, so they kept right on doing it.
Hundreds of thousands—perhaps millions—martyred because of one evil man who could not face up to his own ineptness and brutality as a leader. But even more astonishing is the seemingly insignificant weapon used to get it all started—the tongue.
There used to be an old Christian song called, “Pass it On.” I actually loved it. In it there is one line that goes like this,
‘It only takes a spark,
to get a fire going’
The Bible speaks to this as well,
James 3:5 says, “the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
The tongue can be used for good or evil—for building up or tearing down. To build small groups or worldwide ministries—to destroy a small group or bring down a worldwide ministry—to spread the word and plant a new and vibrant church or to spread lies and split the Bride of Christ apart.
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Make sure you’re not burning down what the Lord has built up in the process.