Hello and greetings in the Name of Him Who Dared to Endure the Cross, Jesus Christ!
“In so much that many of the brethren in the Lord are boldened through my bands, and dare more frankly speak the word.” –Philippians 1:14
You know, Paul suffered a lot for Jesus Christ. He was punched, pelted with rocks, beaten by those who were trying to kill him; he was shipwrecked, he had to fight off wild animals; he suffered from hunger and had his fill of sleepless nights.
What is the worst treatment that we have suffered for Christ? Many of us have never endured physical persecution because of Jesus. Verbal attacks perhaps, but not physical. What do we really know about suffering affliction as a result of the Gospel anyway? Have we perhaps become too comfortable? Does it still bother us that many people in our area have never heard the Gospel clearly presented? If it bothers us, what are we doing about it? Or is it too much of a risk to take action? Do we no longer dare to evangelize? Is it too inconvenient for us to reach out to others with the message of Christ? Have we settled down into a routine which excludes sharing our faith on a regular basis?
Let’s stop and think a little about what inconvenience Christ endured for us. Should He, the Son of God, humble Himself and bend down in order to descend to this earth? And we talk about inconvenience! Should He come to be born as a baby? In that day and age? To travel by foot on this planet’s dust in that sunny country among those people who were dirty inside and out? To be lied about by Pharisees, betrayed by Judas, pierced by nails and mocked by men? They spat in His face, made a crown of thorns and beat it into His head. He bled. He suffered. He died. And, He rose again! And why did He dare to go through all this? Among other things, because He wanted to save you. Because He wanted to free us. And to this very day He still wants to set people free. And we are His hands.
“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and fill up on my part that which is lacking of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body’s sake, which is the church,” –Colossians 1:24 . We know that hardship will come in some form or another at some point, because 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” But can we rejoice in it, like Paul did? How did he respond? He sang God’s praises in jail while he was covered with unjust wounds—remember that—he sang God’s praises in jail while he was covered with unjust wounds. God can help us do the same. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” –Matthew 5:44
Paul went out of his way to share the Gospel with people. He went the extra mile; he bent over backwards trying to save people. Do we care enough to exert ourselves in our witnessing? Do we go out of our way to make Christ known to people? Or have we, over time, set too high of a priority on sticking to our comfort zone? Has witnessing become too tiresome? Here is our all-season license to testify of God’s truth: “preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” –2 Timothy 4:2
We are like the watchman on the wall. We see the Day of Judgment approaching. The choice is ours: will we blow the trumpet to alert others, or will we escape alone? We don’t have the power to bring people under conviction of sin. But rather it is our responsibility to lovingly warn them. Don’t be afraid of what people may or may not think about you; it is God’s estimate of our lives that counts.
May we each decide to pray and ask God for help in this area. Let us dare to speak the Word with boldness. Let us endure a little discomfort for Him Who died on the cross for us. Let us testify of Christ—in season and out of season—and redeem the time because the days are evil. “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” –Hebrews 12:3 . May Christ Jesus, Who didn’t spare Himself in His obedience to the Father, also enable us to not spare ourselves in our obedience to Him. Amen.
This week we mowed and raked grass at our campsite, Mispa. But Heinrich and I also penetrated the ranks of the local college kids with Gospel literature on Tuesday night, Friday night and Saturday evening. Dim, yellow outdoor lights; smoke, alcohol, other drugs; there were all kinds of different people groups and subcultures, but I think most were Afrikaans and Sotho. A lot of them told me they knew the Lord and were on their way to Heaven (drunk and wielding cigarettes and all) including the guy with a hookah in his backpack (called hubbly bubbly in South Africa) who told me this is not the time to talk to the students. But I thank God that we dared to share the Gospel with them!
Thanks for your prayers! I preached at the monthly service in Bloemfontein today. Lord willing, Heinrich and I leave on Wednesday for a 12-day visit to a small town in the northern Free State where we plan on having a weekend children’s camp followed by a weekend youth camp. Please pray for us as this takes a lot of preparation and creativity. We would also like to bombard the town with the Gospel during that time. May God change hearts forever and draw souls to Himself!