I recently was listening in on a discussion where people were talking about their hardships. Two attitudes dominated the beginning of the discussion, one was that hardship was bad, and two, God would not want His people to suffer. I find this disturbing as I am hearing more and more such thinking among B4T workers. I raised the question with the group; “Didn’t Jesus say, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it?” and then I left to let them work out the application.
Sacrifice and Christianity go hand in hand. The life and example of Jesus is rooted in sacrifice. If we remove sacrifice from our prayers and daily work life, we are left with a shell without an explosive, a farce not a force. Sacrifice is written large over the pages of Genesis to Revelation. God so loved that He gave heaven’s best. Jesus so loved that He laid down His life. To us, His followers it is given, on His behalf, not only to believe but also to suffer for His sake.
In these post-modern “me” centered times, there seems to be an amnesia in reference to suffering. How often do we focus on fulfilment rather than on obedience, on safety rather than duty, on ministry survival rather than boldness? C.T. Studd said, “Heroism is the lost chord; the missing note of present-day Christianity!” This is tragedy. The suffering of the cross and our love should be the most prominent features identifying us as B4T workers. Our Master Jesus made the cross and suffering a condition of discipleship:
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever losses his life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24-25)
To say you follow Jesus but not to embrace His suffering is an oxymoron. Further, it displays our unworthiness to be His disciples.
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)
Our forsaking of the cross and its sufferings brings shame on us, and on our Lord. It also severely limits our fruit. Notice that in Matthew 10:39 and Matthew 16:25 our Lord Jesus points out that by trying to save our lives we will lose them. This is an eternal principle written into the fabric of the universe.
There is no gain but by a loss, We cannot save but by the cross;
The corn of wheat to multiply, Must fall into the ground and die.
O, should a soul alone remain, When it a hundred fold can gain?
Our souls are held by all they hold; Slaves still are slaves in chains of gold:
To whatsoever we may cling, We make it a soul-changing thing,
Whether it be a life or land, And dear as our right eye or hand.
Whenever ripe fields you behold, Waving to God their sheaves of gold,
Be sure some corn of wheat has died, Some saintly soul be crucified:
Someone has suffered, wept, and prayed, And fought hell’s legions undismayed.