On the road to Caesarea Philippi, Jesus told his disciples that he would be rejected by the high priests, suffer, and be killed. When Peter reprimanded him, Jesus exclaimed, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man (ESV).” Jesus then declared that his disciples must take up their cross and follow him. Whether Jesus said all this is beside the point. The idea that—the world being what it is—Christians must suffer is an intrinsic part of Christianity.
So, I ask myself, “Have I suffered because I’m a follower of Jesus?” “Not much,” I hasten to say. Perhaps on occasion I’ve been rejected by the high priests of modern secularism, but little else has befallen me in the way of hardship or pain because of discipleship. I can, however, imagine a couple of cases in which I would suffer.
One is if I were to pursue a life of social activism. I can imagine protesting some social injustice and being knocked in the head by a counter-protestor. Another is an inclination I’ve had to become a counselor for the National Suicide Line. I’m sure that listening to someone who’s suicidal would stir intense feelings of depression and pain in me myself. That’s probably a good reason for not taking on such a task. I have less justification for not getting out in the streets to demonstrate, particularly during the Vietnam War.
I do believe that whatever we may suffer for following Jesus is more than made up for by the joy of being in His company.
~ Richard Russell
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