Today is the Ides of March.
For those of you who have never had to study Latin (lucky you), the Ides of March was a holiday the Romans celebrated on March 15. It was a festival in honor of Mars, the Roman god of war, and it is still famous because, in 44 B.C., Julius Caesar was assassinated on the Ides of March.
The title above is from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the only play by Shakespeare that I liked when I was in high school. (I’m afraid my opinion of Romeo and Juliet was rather low. What idiots!) In the play, Brutus is forced to choose between his loyalty to and affection for Caesar, and what he believes is in the best interest of Rome. The Romans of Brutus’ day, like modern Americans, had rejected monarchy. The upper class of Rome, those who could be Senators, hated and feared the idea of rule by one man. The possibility that Caesar might have enough political and popular support to become that one man meant that he had to die. So, Brutus and his fellow conspirators waylaid Caesar in the Curia (Senate house) and stabbed him to death. They succeeded in killing Caesar, but they failed to stop political change. Caesar’s nephew, Octavian, became emperor instead.
Brutus was an honorable man because, given a hard moral choice, he chose what was in the best interest of his people. You and I face a similar choice everyday because there is a little caesar in all of us. (No, not the pizza guy!) I mean the ego I have that continually puffs itself up and wants the praise and esteem of others. It would happily be queen of all it surveys. The problem is that monarchy is bondage. Yes, even if I’m the monarch (or think I am). The minute that Crown of Self-Centeredness alights on my pointed little head, I have become enslaved to me. And, believe me, I know myself too well to like the sound of that. Enslaved to my need to please; enslaved to my bad habits; enslaved to my unfulfilled desires and ambitions; enslaved to bad memories that I can’t resist brooding over. Yes, being the Queen of Me sounds like no end of fun.
We can say with rejoicing that God has given us an alternative: “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:4-5, ESV)
Does that sound like a bloody revolution to you? Me, too. At least, though, we are guaranteed more success than Brutus. It’s not going to kill us to stick a pin in our stuck-up egos. And when we take on our own strongholds (sinful habits), we have a potent Ally who means to see that the war is won. According to 1 Corinthians 15, we have victory through Christ who promises to resurrect our sinful bodies and give us glorious bodies like His own.
In the meantime, I’d like to taste some liberty.