The more I read about the history of Christianity (and I’ve read a lot over the past number of years…) the closer the past feels. While the time of Jesus Christ’s time on Earth is literally ancient history, I find that it’s easier and easier to imagine what it was like. In my mind’s eye I can see Him as a physically present human being who laughed and cried, ate and drank, farted and burped like the rest of us. I can imagine Paul and his incredible excitement and passion traveling around the Mediterranean giving all of the newly planted churches the best advice that he had even when he wasn’t always sure and once in a while made some mistakes (I’m looking at you, Corinthians 6:9-10). Felicity and Perpetua being so strong and confident in their faith that they could withstand attacks by animals set upon them by the Romans. I can see Tertullian earnestly writing from Carthage, laying out rules for the young Church. I can sympathize with Luther and his horrible guilt and confusion at the state of the Church in his time.
By the numbers all of these people seem so far away, but the more I read the more I realise that they were people like you and me. People who lived, breathed, and spent time with those they loved. They weren’t just ink on a page, dry and lifeless. Praise be to God for a past that is so rich!