FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
THE GOSPEL OF THE CROSS
May 16, 2017
Today’s reading: Acts 14:19-28
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22b). Hardship, suffering and pain are the lot of the authentic missionary. Many times affliction comes from those closest to us, those who are our co-workers, those who extol us. Paul and Barnabas had just been looked on as gods, when “some Jews from Antioch and Iconium arrived and won over the crowds. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.” (v.19). Yesterday the crowds were offering sacrifice to him as a god; today the crowds are stoning him. But that is also what happened to Jesus. Last week the crowds were shouting “Hosanna;” this week they are shouting “Crucify him.”
So it was the lot of Jesus. It was the lot of Paul. Why would we not be given the same privilege? Or why will we try to escape what is the will of God for His beloved and faithful servants? In fact, Paul and Barnabas spoke of hardships not to discourage people, but to encourage them! “They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith” (v.22a).
Suffering is salvific. People try to escape the cross, looking for comfort and convenience in life. But Jesus tells us to embrace our cross. Daily. If we are to be his disciples.
Because the early disciples understood the importance of suffering, they plodded on, no matter what. Stoned and left for dead in Lystra, Paul continued on, as “he left with Barnabas for Derbe.” (v.20c). Then “they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.” (v.21b). Then on to Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia and Antioch (v.24-26a). Whew. They could only do all that after being honed through suffering and pain. And God used them mightily, as they “made a considerable number of disciples” (v.21b).
The authentic gospel is the gospel of the cross. If we are to follow our Lord and Master Jesus, he leads us all the way to the cross. Embrace it with joy.
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