Appointed To Share Christ And Suffer
Today’s title does not seem very appealing! Most of us will do anything to avoid suffering. But the Apostle Paul knew that faith in Christ and suffering are linked. Jesus Himself was flogged and crucified: and before his conversion, Paul had persecuted the church, throwing men and women into prison and approving their execution. Now he was in prison because he kept on preaching that Jesus Christ is God the Son, and that people can only know the true God through Him.
But Paul was not ashamed. He knew that God had appointed him to be His apostle to the Gentiles, a messenger of the gospel and a teacher of the new growing churches … and that was such a huge privilege. So how could he be ashamed? Also, he believed that the gospel was completely true, and that Jesus would personally sustain him through all the difficulties of this life and carry him over safely into a Christ-filled eternity. By comparison, his sufferings were insignificant: as Paul wrote in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
Paul knew that Timothy needed that encouragement to keep on proclaiming Christ, despite the threats and hostile actions of unbelievers. What a helpful example for us too! We are saved to serve the Lord Jesus, who is still ignored or hated by the world. When we bring Jesus into sharp focus to those around us, they may well hate us also: Jesus said that would happen (John 15:18-19). And Paul wrote, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him …” (Philippians 1:29). So those who are secure in Christ will endure hardship, but will also receive their eternal reward (2 Timothy 2:3-6). Perhaps it is time to stop looking at ourselves and our comfort, and look at the Lord Jesus, praying for increased assurance and confidence in Christ. Then live without looking back and without fear.
© Dr Paul Adams