February 06, 2023 Samuel Lindsay

Faithful Families

Faithful Families

Baz & Em had 10 kids. Their family was quite well off, but they suffered for their Christian faith. In fact, Em's dad was even killed for Jesus. But this didn't stop them, they remained faithful and diligent believers.

This family would go on to have a lasting impact in God's church down to this day. It is a testimony to the power of unwavering service to God with your life. Not every faithful family will have historical note, but examples like theirs prove what God does in ordinary peoples lives, and how He uses people of different personalities and situations.

So what's the deal with this family?

I don't know all their stories, but let me share a little of what I do know.

Baz's mum Macrina helped raise at least the four eldest kids. She was a faithful Christian who studied theology, and helped pass her faith onto her grandkids. She too was persecuted and had to flee her home for a time.

The first of the 10 kids was named after her grandmother, Macrina. She studied the scriptures from a young age and helped to raise her siblings and share the scriptures with them too. Eventually she was engaged to be married, but her fiancée died before they could tie the knot and she would remain unmarried. After her father died she promised to stick with her mum always, and looked after her till her dying breath. Macrina devoted herself to prayer and fasting, and created a place where women like herself could live and pray. There she treated women of high and low class equally. She had some wonky beliefs, but she was unrelenting in her desire to serve the Lord with her whole life.

The second child was named after his dad, Baz, and he had a brother Greg. Together Baz Jr. and Greg went of to Athens to study, much like someone heading off to uni. They were away from home getting their qualifications. Like the uni students of today, they were faced with the temptations to continually party and indulge their lustful desires in the big city. Yet because of their faith they were able to resist. Baz Jr. said: “We knew only two streets of the city, the first and the more excellent one to the churches, and to the ministers of the altar; the other, which, however, we did not so highly esteem, to the public schools and to the teachers of the sciences. The streets to the theatres, games, and places of unholy amusements, we left to others. Our holiness was our great concern; our sole aim was to be called and to be Christians. In this we placed our whole glory.” [1]

Greg and Baz Jr., along with their mate who was also called Greg, would become a theological powerhouse. After their studies they were appointed as Elders in the church. They were each then promoted to be Overseers over whole regions of churches.

In their day the church was full of bad teaching that undermined the fact that Jesus is God. Baz Jr., Greg & Greg went toe to toe with the heretics doing what they could in their areas of authority to stamp it out, including leveraging church politics and writing books and letters to defend the faith. These three together would become known as the Cappadocian Fathers for their staunch defence of the Trinity in a time of much false teaching.

Baz Jr. was the ringleader of the trio and keen to practice the practical outworking of Christian faith. He set up the worlds first known hospital, along with a hospice and homeless shelter. He used his wealth and position to serve others.

The brother Greg would marry, and he would outlive Baz Jr. He got to serve at one of the great theological meetings of the Church. This meant he helped clarify the biblical teaching about the Trinity against the false teaching that was everywhere at that time.

While Baz Jr. and Greg get most of the air time, it is worth remembering that their brother Pete also became a church leader and overseer of a whole area of churches. He was generous to the poor, especially in times of famine, and he encouraged his brothers to write some of their most famous works.

Nat, another of the brothers was educated like his siblings, and he was a fantastic public speaker, but he gave it up to live out bush presumably so he was better able to serve the Lord free from distractions. By hunting and fishing he supported his elderly neighbours.

I don't know anything of the other siblings, but what can be seen is a pattern of faithfulness, from grandparents who were examples and teachers, to persevering parents, to dutiful daughters and staunch sons.

This family is not held up as burdensome guilt trip, but rather as an example of what God can do with faithful people. This kind of amazing legacy can only be accomplished by God in grace, but He does it in and through people like you and me as we seek to faithfully serve Jesus Christ.

You may be able to tell that I shortened the names here in the Aussie fashion. Their real names are:

  • Baz & Em = Basil the Elder and Emmelia of Caesarea
  • Macrina the Elder
  • Macrina the Younger
  • Baz Jr. = Basil the Great
  • Greg = Gregory of Nyssa
  • Pete = Peter of Sebaste
  • Nat = Naucratius
  • Other Greg = Gregory of Nazianzus (mate to Basil & Gregory)

They all lived in the 300s A.D. in what is modern day Turkey.

"...as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD" (Jos 24:15).

"If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mk 9:35–37).

Samuel Lindsay

[1] Philip Schaff and David Schley Schaff, History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1910), 895.