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“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. — Matthew 5:11 (NET)
“For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” — 1 Peter 2:21 (CSB)
DO WE SUFFER ENOUGH FOR THE GOSPEL?
Did you read the source text verses above? I mean, did you really read them? Please don’t breeze past them as if they were obstacles separating you from the Meditation.
They are God’s Words placed in His Holy Bible for us to follow. He wants us to know that if we are going to be believers in Jesus Christ, there will be heartache and difficulty — maybe even torture and death — in our journey.
Jesus told us that if we believe in Him and follow Him, we will face persecution. We will be hated by some, we will face difficult relationships, and we will encounter — at the very least — uncomfortable moments in social gatherings.
LIVING FOR CHRIST is not for the faint-of-heart. It’s not a comfortable gig in which church becomes a networking opportunity to add to our business contacts or where we volunteer for a high-profile position to place on our resumes.
It’s plain old living for Christ 24/7/365 — a full-time vocation — that will cause us anguish and heartache … if we’re sincere in our faith-walk. We will hurt for those loved ones who remain lost in their disbelief. We will be singled out for abuse at work or the playground, shunned at parties, talked about by those bearing grudges.
Is that what you signed up for?
I SIGNED UP FOR easy burden, light yoke. Instead, I got spiritual warfare, suit of armor.
That’s right. I was brought into the fold because I loved what Jesus said in His comforting moments, like this one:
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30 NIV)
Yes, I got that, for sure, when I came to faith. But soon after I repented of my sin and asked the Lord to captain my life, I got a knock on the door from the Evil One:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)
TRUE, I WAS TOLD about spiritual warfare, but, frankly, I didn’t pay much attention to those teachings and had little idea what it was about. I certainly didn’t expect it would involve me. I mean, who was I that “heavenly powers of darkness” would bother me?
But they did. They noticed right away that I had switched teams and they were, literally, *hell bent* on getting me back.
They almost succeeded, too, but Jesus fought back. He was good to His Word that no one could snatch me from His grip.
HERE ARE TWO PROMISES, one from the Old Testament and one from the New, that testify to God’s grace in keeping us as His own:
“From eternity to eternity I am God. No one can snatch anyone out of my hand. No one can undo what I have done.” (Isaiah 43:13 NLT)
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28 ESV)
Now, as comforting as those promises are, they form our protective shield when the world comes after us, which it will.
It will, but only if we are sincere in our walk with Christ … only if we are willing to proclaim our faith, to open our mouths, to give public testimony to the work the Holy Spirit has done and is doing in our lives.
Pastor Francis Chan, in his book Letters to the Church (David C. Cook. Kindle Edition (p. 130)), wrote these words:
“According to Jesus, far from having no cost, following Him will cost you everything. Far from promising a better life, He warned of intense suffering.”
SO, BACK TO THE BEGINNING.
Do we suffer enough for the Gospel?
He told us what the cost would be. This is how we’ll know if we’re being faithful to the Gospel:
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 CSB)
O Lord, who was and is and is to come, we praise Your Holy Name. Our Father God, we are so grateful for Your Son’s sacrifice on our behalf to reclaim us as His own. Let us not fail to follow Him daily, to take up our cross of suffering, to endure whatever persecution or betrayals come our way because of the Gospel. Abba Father, we claim Your promise that You’ll grab our hand and never let go. In turn, Lord, let us never fail to rest in that promise. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
Questions for personal meditation or group discussion:
1. Are you willing to risk everything, including loss of family love and friendships, to follow Jesus? If not, what holds you back? Can you comprehend the sacrifice He made for you when He was beaten and crucified to atone for your sins?
2. What do you think of when someone tells you that, as a Christian, you will be called to suffer for the Kingdom? Do you think it’s “fair” that you’re caught up with spiritual warfare, that the “heavenly powers” are fighting for your soul?
3. Can you see God’s amazing grace pour through this lesson, that His love for you and the rest of His creation is so great that He has provided “a way out” for those who believe in His Son, that they will not perish but have everlasting life?
Would you like us at LoveAndGrace to pray for you?
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