There is a cost for following Jesus. Jesus spoke to it many times with His disciples and there is going to be good and bad, as we classify it from our human perspective. Some of the bad from our perspective is mentioned in John 16: 2 They will ban you from the synagogue, yet an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering a service to God. This is where the clash between those following Jesus and those who follow the Law of Moses comes to the forefront. Jesus has already established that He didn't come to abolish the Law of Moses, but He came to fulfill it. Jesus says this in Matthew 5:17 “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. Part of fulfilling the law was what Jesus did on the cross to redeem us and make living this life of the law a reality because of the grace He supplied for sinners.
Paul dealt with this when he confronted Peter about trying to play both sides of the coin and in Galatians 2 Paul writes this Galatians 2: 15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from the Gentiles;16 nevertheless, knowing that a person is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the Law; since by works of the Law, no flesh will be justified.17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Far from it!18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a wrongdoer.19 For through the Law I died to the Law so that I might live for God.20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
Paul knew and realized that he was at times going to be a lonely Christ follower because he was bucking an age-old belief system that was buried deep in all Jews. Even though he had the truth and followed the truth, he was going to be rejected at every turn and it was going to be bad at times. Here is what Paul got for standing up for the gospel of Jesus Christ as written in 2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they servants of Christ?—I am speaking as if insane—I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death.24 Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent adrift at sea.26 I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers;27 I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.
Paul received all of this because he preached the gospel, the true gospel, of Jesus Christ as a faithful follower. So the words of Jesus in John 16 really came true in Paul's life. The first place Paul went to when he came into a new area was the synagogue, and when they rejected his teachings, Paul went to someone's home and preached the message of Jesus and people were born again and thus a church was established. A "real" church! Along with the rejection came the establishment of a church that preached the life-giving hope of Jesus and from there the gospel spread and lives were changed. The good with the bad. Paul's testimony says it was worth it! If you don't believe me then you will have to believe Paul's letter to the Philippians where he said in Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Take note of where the rejection of the gospel was the most intense. THE SYNAGOGUE! If it ever gets to the point where the gospel is no longer welcome in the Synagogue, then we are in trouble because the ones who reject preaching the gospel will think they are doing a good thing, a God thing. But they aren't. Here is what Paul wrote to the "house" church in Rome. Romans 1: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Paul's unrelenting commitment to share the gospel was met by "believers" as heresy, but he continued to preach it because he knew that to be ashamed of the gospel would take the power out of the message.
What should we do? I will embrace the "power" of God for salvation and continue to preach and share this message of hope and grace no matter what others are doing and thus hold strong to the main thing, and that main thing is this. Jesus was born, lived, died, and rose again, and sits at the right hand of God right now. He has redeemed me and given me the message of power to which my life is surrendered, but I must be willing to take the bad to get to the good and it will be worth it.
Join me in defending the message of hope to a lost and dying world by sharing your testimony of the power of God for salvation. Take up your cross and follow Jesus and be poured out as an offering of worship to Jesus. Paul wrote in Romans 12: 1 Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
If others fall away from presenting the hope of the gospel stand firm and keep proclaiming the blessed hope of salvation through Jesus. There is no greater message we can share. It is no accident that Paul writes this to the house church in Rome just before he shares how the wrath of God will be revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who "suppress" THE TRUTH. The end result of suppressing that truth is the "bad" we are experiencing in our world today. Paul wrote that man has no excuse when it comes to God and that man can never move upwards in their position with God, so a religious path is only a path of futility and failure. Only the path of righteousness will suffice and that righteousness is found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and the process of being born again in the Spirit. We can only live the life Christ wants us to live through the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. And Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to enable us to live that life of freedom. Praise God! Now THAT is really good and we live our daily life out of the realization of the grace given to each of us who are born again. Here is the ending truth of the whole thing. JUST LIVE IT!!
The Pilgrimage Continues