Would You Be Flogged for Jesus?
What happens when we become a Christian? For many people the thought is this: it should mean that things get better, that we prosper more, that we experience more happiness, that we overcome our sicknesses, that family life with relationship issues improves, etc. All gain. But is that the reality of the Christian life? Many will tell you from experience that it is not. Sometimes our non-Christian friends now make fun of us or don’t want to be friends any longer, because we now have guidelines-for-living they don’t like. We all know in the current environment of our U.S. culture that many don’t even want to be around Christian people, and openly discriminate against them. That will only increase in the days ahead, I’m afraid. A new Christian wife who still has an unbelieving husband can tell you that family life hasn’t gotten easier, it’s now harder, trying to honor the Lord while honoring the marriage relationship also. And listen to the words of Jesus, who knew such things would happen: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). Tough words, but realistic when it comes to the allegiance we need with Jesus as Lord. It certainly does not make life easier for the Christian.
Jesus also said we need to count the cost of being his disciple (Luke 14:26-28). Just like the builder who sets out to construct a tower. Does the builder have the resources and money to complete the project? Do we have the dedication and focus to stay faithful as Jesus’ disciple? It involves morals that are adopted, a mindset or worldview that is developed, the fortitude to stand against the waves of attack from friends, family, or culture that may come. It involves education and service. It involves patience with a view to the treasures in heaven that will one day be ours! There are countless joys along the way and the satisfaction of knowing we are right with God and on a meaningful path in life, but there is a price to be paid, we must count the cost.
Take the apostles as a prime example. On one occasion when many were becoming Christian, we are told that the Jewish leaders became jealous and arrested the apostles. An angel opened the door during the night and brought them out, with instructions, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20). They did. The Jewish leaders hear what has happened and bring the apostles back in again, telling them not to teach in the name of Jesus. The apostles state, “We must obey God rather than men.” The Jewish leaders are enraged! After being calmed by Gamaliel, they decide to flog them and told them again not to preach Jesus. Flogging was a process of being whipped repeatedly, leaving scars on the person’s back. And yet we are told the apostles left “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus” (Acts 5:41). Then, “every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that Jesus is the Christ.”
No, life does not automatically get better from a worldly point of view when we become Christian. It may get harder. Have you counted the cost? But here’s the good news…it is worth it! Listen to the Apostle Paul, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have suffered the loss of many things and count them as rubbish, in order to gain Christ and be found in him!” (read all of Philippians 3:1-11).
Cross Point: “Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness, and let steadfastness have its full effect, to be perfect and complete” (Js. 1:2-4).