239. Hardships to enter the kingdom.
'"We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God." they said.'* ( Acts 14:22) Even as Jesus revealed to his disciples the glory that awaited them, he also revealed to them the fact that they too will have to suffer for the sake of his Name and kingdom, just as he did. For the resurrected Christ had said this about himself: *"Did not Christ have to suffer these things and THEN enter his glory?"* (Luke 24:26) How then can it be different for his servants? *"If the world hated you, keep in mind that it hated me first ... No servant is greater than the master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also ... They will treat you this way because of my Name ..."* (John 15:18-21) So when the disciples were severely flogged, they thought it was an honour to suffer for his Name *'The Apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.'* ( Acts 5:41) They did what the Scripture exhorts us to do: *'Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when the glory is revealed'* ( 1 Peter 4:13) for *'our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us'* (Romans 8:18) because *'our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.'* ( 2 Corinthians 4:17) Since the Kingdom of God suffers violence from the time of its proclamation, beginning with John the Baptist ( Matthew 11:12), its only rationale to believe that its soldiers too will face the heat of the battle! The battle rages in many fronts and not just in the mission fields but all over the world because *'the whole world is under the control of the evil one.'* ( 1 John 5:19) Therefore,*'resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.'* ( 1 Peter 5:9) Many modern day believers have been told that Jesus suffered for us and therefore we need not suffer anything! Ofcourse, we need not suffer the eternal consequences of our sins but will have to suffer for a while for the sake of Christ, which Paul addressed as *'the afflictions of Christ that are left behind'* ( Colossians 1:24) meaning, Jesus suffered to bring salvation to earth but the afflictions in preaching the gospel of his Kingdom, to the ends of the earth has been left behind for us to suffer. *'For it has been granted to us on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.'* ( Philippians 1:29) John too acknowledged that it was granted to us to endure sufferings for the sake of Christ when he wrote: *'I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.'* ( Revelation 1:9) Therefore, *'here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure with him, we will reign with him ...'* ( 2 Timothy 2:11-12) Amen.