Recently I posted a 'guest post' by Jeff and you were able to read about some of the specific individuals that he ministered to at Mardi Gras. Each team member has their own list of people that they were able to talk to and I wish I could share them all. Together I bet we talked to HUNDREDS of people. You wouldn't believe all the different types of people we were able to talk to. Can you imagine standing in the middle of the pit of hell for hours each night and being able to talk to person after person about Jesus and Scripture? And we weren't dragging them over to talk to us....they came willingly and started conversations!!
Yes, some of the conversations weren't a bed of roses. Yes, we were cussed out, made fun of, pelted with beads, mocked, had drinks thrown on us, and thought of as stupid. But those moments are just part of the territory. We can't expect the forces of evil out there to embrace us. The darkness despises the light.
Did we go down there expecting this type of treatment? Of course. Do we like it? Not really. But will it deter us from reaching whom God has set before us? No. Is sharing Jesus and planting the seed of Truth worth the little bit of suffering and persecution we put up with? Absolutely.
Although we have yet to go through what Jesus or His disciples did, you can see from the Word that this suffering is not to be despised when it is used for His glory. It should actually be expected when we are living a fully committed life. I could try and type up something persuasive, and get you to see why we feel the persecution and suffering is needed and beneficial, but I think the Scriptures can speak for themselves :)
Mark 10:39 - Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from my bitter cup and be baptized with my baptism of suffering.
Romans 8:16-18 - For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.
Philippians 1:28-29 - Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.
2 Corinthians 4:9-10 - We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-6 - And God will use this persecution to show his justice and to make you worthy of his Kingdom, for which you are suffering. In his justice he will pay back those who persecute you.
2 Timothy 4:5 - But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
1 Peter 2:21 - For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.
1 Peter 3:13-14 - Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.
1 Peter 4:12-14 - Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you.
1 Peter 5:19 - Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.
Mark 10:29-30 - “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or property, for my sake and for the Good News, will receive now in return a hundred times as many houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children, and property—along with persecution. And in the world to come that person will have eternal life.
2 Corinthians 12:10 - That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Timothy 3:12 - Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
These surely aren't pretty topics....if we're truly honest, we probably just want to get saved and love people and have a happy, prosperous, comfortable life until Jesus comes back. But how can we overlook everything that is talked about in God's Word? How can we read this and think that it doesn't have to apply to us?
Jesus tells us plainly:
Luke 14:27-29 - And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you.
Until Part 4.....
Loving Radically Through Christ (and totally examining myself for shortfalls after this post),