I remember when I first made a commitment to follow the Lord that I felt peace and joy. But nobody told me about things like persecution and the ill-favor of man. I got a small lesson once when I witnessed to a guy who asked if I would still feel so loving if he pushed my motorcycle over. (Another time, somebody did far worse than kick it over; they set fire to it and destroyed it.)
Experiences like those showed me that Christianity isn't easy. It's a great life, but it has its trials. There are potholes in the road, thorns on the rose bushes. We need to tell people the truth. Jesus did: When a man promised to follow Him wherever He went, Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20).
Sometimes, Christianity is presented as the Gospel of the "hot sale" or the "irresistible deal." In the 60s and 70s, there was a bandwagon approach, and people jumped on because their friends were doing it. Sometimes, it's still like that.
But the Bible says, "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Matthew chapter 10 is all about that. The world doesn't take kindly to the truth. Sinful people don't like to be confronted with their sin. As long as you keep the message positive, pat them on the back, and say, "It's nice to be nice," that's OK. When the message of sin, repentance, judgment and hell comes up, some try to soft-peddle it.
We need to share the whole truth and let the chips fall where they may. We should be sensitive. Jesus says in Matthew 10:16, "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves." But we should never have a false appeal. In some circles, the false appeal is that when you accept Christ you will have financial prosperity and you'll be free from any disease -- and anything else only shows your lack of faith.
If that were true -- and it's not -- you would have people coming to Christ for that reason alone. That's Jesus as a "free lunch" or a "health insurance plan." There were people who tried to follow Jesus because of the signs He performed. But He wouldn't commit Himself to them; He didn't receive that kind of discipleship (see John 2:23-25).
Trials come to everyone, Christians and non-believers alike. The difference is this: In all things, God will weave it together for your highest good -- so that life is not a series of experiences with no meaning, but God will have a plan and a purpose for them. And isn't that what we all really want?
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