The year was 410 when Rome fell to Alaric and the Visigoths. The peace of Rome (i.e. pax romana) had prevailed for a thousand years. The Roman Empire would survive in a diminished form for another sixty years. But it was mortally wounded and would eventually fade away entirely.
St. Augustine lived to see the fall of the Roman Empire. He was the bishop of the church of Hippo in North Africa. And the impact of Rome’s fall reached all the way to the African continent. The Barbarian tribes descended toward Africa from the north, raping and pillaging as they went.
Many were deeply shaken in their faith. Some had come to believe that the Roman Empire was the kingdom of God. How could God’s kingdom be destroyed? Christianity had prevailed throughout the empire and many had come to see the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Rome as one.
Augustine had to remind the believers that their hope should not be in a man-made city but in a city whose designer and builder is God (Heb. 11:10). On this theme he penned one of his greatest works – The City of God.
It seems to me that we need Augustine’s exhortation in our day as well. America was founded and established on Christian principles. Many of its founders were devout believers. In recent years, there has been a decided turn away from God’s moral standards. The culture, in many ways, has become hostile to Christianity.
Some are deeply shaken by this. They are enamored with wanting to see America restored as a Christian nation. We would do well to remember that our hope has never been in Rome, America or any other human entity. Our hope is in God and his kingdom. And we are confident that his city will never be destroyed.
Photo credit: https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Roma_dall%27aereo.JPG#mw-jump-to-license