One of the amazing things about being in Rome last week was seeing the by-gone glory of the Roman Empire right next to the memorials of Christendom, both past and present. While I was in the Roman Colosseum there was a point when I could peer over at the Arch of Constantine. In the Colosseum legend tells us Christians may have been tortured and killed as enemies of the state. At the Arch of Constantine we remember the military victory of the first emperor of Rome to legalize Christianity.

I tend to be one who thinks negatively of Constantine. Yet I have often asked myself how I would see him if I had been a Roman Christian in that day. As an American Christian there has never been a time in my life where I was under a hostile government that didn’t allow me to live religiously. Would I have viewed Constantine differently if I went from persecuted minority to someone who could both worship Christ and not worry about persecution? Probably.

These two symbols of Christianity threatened and Christianity vindicated represent an internal tension within me. Do I think my faith has lost some of its original vision once it became vogue? Yes. Do I want to experience what my brothers and sisters in places like Afghanistan, China, or Iraq experience? No, not at all. I love/hate what happened to Christianity after Constantine. I am not sure if I will ever resolve this.