Return to the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 11:23-28
Are they ministers of Christ? I speak as a fool – I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness….
Now I ask you a question: What is it that can cause a human being like Paul to be willing to endure all of this and still keep believing what He claims to believe? He was human just like you and me. He could’ve easily said “Flag this, why should I go through all of this? If you want to die and go to the other place, so be it….I will go run my tent building business, make some money, live comfortably and even help those in need. Who needs all of this? Beatings, stoning, bleeding, prison….Life can surely be better than this.
But no, Paul willingly chose to endure all of that and counted it all joy for the sake of Christ. That’s weird isn’t it? Peter the apostle was crucified upside down because he didn’t think he was worthy enough to be crucified just like Christ. I read somewhere that back in those days, the Romans used Christians as torch lights to light up their streets, by setting them ablaze. How horrific!! And yet they couldn’t and wouldn’t denounce their faith in what they knew to be true. They seemed to have received a gospel message that somehow was so precious to them. So much so that they were unwilling to let it go even to the point of death. What is it that causes a human being to boldly endure all of that and yet not renounce their faith? Why is that belief so important to them?
Are we today hearing the same gospel they heard then?
Please watch this video clip and read further..
This is just one story. Just search on YouTube and you’ll find thousands of similar stories., some too horrific to mention.
When you watch these people, their stories somehow seem to fit in well with the trend you see in the bible. That tells me that their faith is in line with the faith of Paul, Peter and others in the bible. That assures me that their faith is genuine. Obviously it doesn’t mean that all of us have to go looking for trouble just to prove our faith. But it certainly makes me examine myself and question myself, if I were in that situation, what would I do? Would I endure and still pray for them?
This is so different to the Christianity portrayed in much of the western world. You see glamour in Christianity today. Preachers unfortunately seem more like celebrities rather than carrying the powerful presence of God.
However it is not so in the large part of the non-western world. Genuine faith still exists and genuine disciples of Christ still exist and their lives are very much similar to the one’s you see in the bible. They lead simple lives, loving people and sharing the love of Christ at every opportunity. Yes, they face persecution just like in the days of old and still love the Lord immensely, but more than that, their faith is confirmed by signs, wonders and miracles on a daily basis.
I submit to you, genuine faith has got to do with how you see Jesus Christ!! Do you see Him as Lord and Saviour of sinful man or “USEFUL” to sinful man? Come to Jesus, He will heal you, He will prosper you, He will give you peace, He will restore your marriage, He will bless your finances, He will take all your problems away…..OR I am utterly sinful, my thoughts and my actions are sinful and I am separated from God for eternity. I see Jesus as my Saviour who rescued me from my helplessness and reconciled me to my Father. Now I belong to Him and I have eternity to look forward to with hope and joy. He is truly Lord of my life.
The gospel message is not about just escaping hell and going to heaven. It is about the love of the Lord for us sinful men. It is about His eagerness to be intimate with us, walk with us daily and be a Father to us. It is about His longing for us to love Him just as He loves us. That is what the believers in the bible understood as the gospel message. They received Him and not just the message. And they were unwilling to break that intimate relationship with Him, even to the point of death.
If you have a child of your own, are you willing to disown your child if threatened? Of course not!! I’d willingly give up my life to protect my child. Why? Because my child is precious to me. So also Jesus is way too precious to me. I can never disown Him because I can’t live without Him.
Intimately knowing Him causes us to walk perpetually in immense gratitude despite happy times or sad times. It causes us to rely completely and wholly on Him alone. He becomes our primary desire and everything else in life takes a back seat. Then just as He said “these signs shall follow those who believe…..”and it does too.
I want to encourage you to get to KNOW Him, spend time alone with Him and His word as often as you can. Please….because once you do, He will be all that you need. He is so loving, He is caring, He is compassionate, He is powerful, He is mighty, He is forgiving, He is Lord, He is God!!
I was radically transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ back in 1997 in a most unusual way and unusual place. Read my testimony here. Over the years I have come to realize a few basic truths that have altered my life.
True freedom is freedom from self-centeredness. Dying to yourself, your wants, your desires and to what gives you pleasure for the sake of others is more liberating than you think.