When it comes to church history, you could memorize dates and events and places like this: (~ means about or around the year of)
~ 0 Jesus is born of Mary in Bethlehem
~30 Jesus’ public ministry begins, ends a few years later with his trial, execution, and resurrection.
~50 Council of Jerusalem considers the question of circumcision
~64 Great fire in Rome, blamed on Christians– lead to expulsion and increased persecution
~70 The Second Temple is destroyed in Jerusalem
~ 100 John Dies – here on out, the leadership of Christianity no longer has first-hand access to the instruction of people who learned from Jesus, only the disciples of the apostles or other appointed leaders.
~310-315 Emperor Constantine I created the Edict of Milan which accepts Christianity as a religion and largely puts the last of the persecution to an end.
~325 Emperor Constantine calls together the First Council of Nicea to resolve old problems and reorganize as the official religion of the empire. Among the issues brought up were how to treat Christians that renounced the faith because of persecution who wanted to return to the faith as well as the question of the Holy Spirit and the various teachings there-of. Among the many people who attended – the man we would all come to know as Santa Claus.
(Over many years –numerous Councils were called to resolve old problems and deal with new ones – not always being very successful – but they further clarified what was acceptable teachings and argued over heresies.)
~1050 Not long after Christianity celebrates a milestone – lasting a millennium, changing political powers and thoughts on religion lead to the East / West Schism, which separates the One Church into the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church – the Great Schism, as we know it today .
~1500s Protestant Reformation begins – we all know how that one turned out.
~1730-1745 The Great Awakening, a well-known revival takes place, interestingly, there was a large number of schisms that also took place in Protestant America.
Or you could realize that in roughly 2,013 years of the existence in Christianity, a small faith that was once too obscure to be talked about came to rule over the Roman Empire, Europe’s religious and political history, had something to do with America’s founding, and is still alive and kicking mostly because of the countless and anonymous men and women who lived according to what they believed and did what they thought best no matter what was going on in their day and age. They didn’t give up when the going got tough, but they celebrated in the years of peace and plenty. Their names, birthdays, and deaths are forgotten – but they are still our brothers and sisters who will welcome us home one day with open arms and big smile. Their kids did what their parents taught them and followed mostly in their shoes. The church isn’t the pastor, reverend, elder that stands up and has something to say on Sundays – it’s the men and women, the sons and daughters, the aunts the uncles, the cousins, the friends, the neighbors, the guys that work at the plant and the ladies from the factory – it’s all the people that live for God.