Opinion: The Death Of Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa – A Reminder To Christians Withdrawing From Church

by Matheus Yuhlung

When two or more people gather to a point that the private space of each individual eclipses one another’s, disagreements are tend to rise. Considering which, most writers have penned their opinion in the lines of distance creates love; but that isn’t really the truth. In order to get or give love one needs to be in the proximity of one another.

In the book of Genesis, in the account that records the creation of man it is written then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.[i] Notice the word us, it means God is a community; the underlying fact that composes the foundation of the doctrine of trinity.

Now if God created us in His image and if He is a community; then is it not safe to say or believe that He has made us as a community too?

I may be wrong; but the vogue or at least a growing trend that is up surging these days is of Christians withdrawing from their local churches. I don’t know and I can never know the experiences that they’ve felt that lead them to taking such steps. But as a person who has always felt a discomfort in complying with the uniformity of an establishment – I know how hard it is to be in a Church.

But I would never give up nor would I go Church hunting just because I am not comfortable with the one God put me in. If I cannot love this Church that Christ calls His bride then I must be lying when I say I love God. Because the Bible says, for whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.[ii]

And if I cannot keep aside the differences of economy, status and intellectual disparities to unite in a same level to that of my brethrens; then I must be someone with a huge ego and pride. And if that is the case; I’m wrong when I say I’m a Christian.

Consider the inglorious end of a glorious King, The Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa:

On 10 June 1190, Emperor Frederick drowned in the Saleph river. He had decided to walk his horse through the river instead of crossing the bridge that had been too crowded with troops. The current was too strong for the horse to handle, and his suit armour was too heavy for him to swim in: both were swept away and drowned.[iii]

Frederick Barbarossa was an extraordinary emperor whom historians even called him to be superhuman-like; who at the time preceding his death was leading a crusade with an army of 100,000 men including 20,000 knights. But this superhuman-like emperor who was over armed thought to patiently cross the river by bridge along with the troops would belittle his position ended up losing his own life.

Hence, in the same way when we Christians over arm ourselves with the pride of defending one’s individuality we stray ourselves from the community that was made to encourage, motivate and cooperate (with) us in fulfilling the purpose of our existence; we get swept away and drowned under the weight of the overflowing river of temptation.

That is why it is very essential to be in the community of His beloved. Because our lives were never about us, it is about God. Let us take heed to the wisdom that Solomon had left us in the Book of Ecclesiastes when he says though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.[iv]


If you are a Christian away from Church, (whatever the reasons may have been) I hope the Holy Spirit will help you find your way back in and if you are a Christian active in the Church, may God keep the fire burning in your heart until the end of days.

Because as John Donne wrote no man is an island[v]; so in order to practice love we need to be in the proximity of His beloved – to strengthen, encourage, edify and equip one another. And that does not necessarily mean easy; it was never meant to be. And if the fear or the discomfort of that has kept you aloof; know that that distance does not create love – it only pushes you in the comfort of a love that is only illusionary.

[i] Genesis 1:26

[ii] 1 John 4:20

[iii] Frederick 1, The Holy Roman Emperor (Wikipedia)

[iv] Ecclesiastes 4:12

[v] Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions – John Donne (1624)

Picture Credit: photobucket.com