"Therefore we do not faint. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is achieving for us a surpassing and eternal weight of glory, while we do not contemplate the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2Co4:16-18)
"But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their terror, nor be troubled." (1Pet3:14)
Of what does the Christian life consist? What do you hear in the churches? ...from the pulpits? Ohhhh, you wonderful people, in whom God sees so much worth, that's why He saved you; can you say it together with me now: "graaaeeeessss"; Oh dear, do I see some frowns out there (in this -vast- audience)?; well, let's drum up some happy music, and let's worship. C'mon everybody... stand up, put your hands together... while our worship leaders praise, go around and give at least 5 people a big hug and tell them, "God loves you, and so do I" C'mon people, let's get our batteries charged up. OK now, let's all close our eyes, and as the music plays, let's feeeeel the love of God overshadow us. The old life was a sad one, but the new life is a happy one. When you've made the committment, reds are redder, flowers smell sweeter, and all your troubles and sorrows just 'disappear'! Sh'zamm!!!
Yes...I'm poking fun (tongue-in-cheek) at what goes on today...and variations of this have been going on for the past how-many (?) decades, even before the current "spirit-filled" charismania came into vogue. Christians are suppose to be -happy- (bouncy bouncy) and smiley and full of joy and gladness.
And if a person experiences adversity of any kind, there certainly 'must' be something wrong in their life. They must not be fully yielded to the Lord, or there must be sin in their life. Because: what God wants for us is prosperity and "showers of blessing".
Yes, it is true that God often sends and allows sickness and affliction upon a wayward Believer in "chastening" (1Co11:30-32); sickness can often be a means of God drawing a person to Himself for salvation. (Ja5:14-15); and when God heals, it is often with the warning, "Sin no more, that a worse thing not come upon you." (Jn5:14)
Yes, the Believer is always "rejoicing" (1Th5:16); and is full of "joy" and "peace". (Ga5:22) But let's not forget that, while Paul and Silas were singing hymns, they were also in prison, hurting badly from the wounds of having been beaten severely. (Ac16:25)
There is a difference between Godly "joy", and smiling ear-to-ear. If you see somebody being "bouncy bouncy", they might not truly be "rejoicing". They are merely bouncing around willy-nilly...boing-boing.
Jesus promised a certain -reality- to the Christian life. "In the world you have affliction..." (Jn16:33) As I look just now I see that the Geneva and anything with "kjv" in its label (kjv, mkjv, nkjv), put it in the future tense, "you -shall- have tribulation". But in the Greek it is 'present' tense. You -have- it. It's part of the territory of being in the world. There is "enmity" between the world (carnal mind), against God. (Rom8:7, Ja4:4) And as Jesus said, those who show enmity against the Believer are actually in anger at Jesus Christ; and being in anger against Jesus, ultimately they are in defiance against the Most High. (Jn15:18-23)
When a person is "counting the cost" (Lk14:28) regarding following Christ, this is part of the equation. Notice that Jesus never says: Follow Me and we will have our "favorite things: raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens..." as we walk along, "Hello flower! How are you today?"
No... what Jesus invites is to: Take up the cross, and follow Him. In fact He says it even stronger: "And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (Lk14:27) Many pulpits preach a gospel of "peace", but Jesus says, "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a manís enemies will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life on account of Me will find it." (Mt10:34-39)
Is this not the opposite of so-called "family values". Oh, and let me tell you...I've witnessed it: If you decide to stand up for Godly values, family (depending on the family) may even resort to emotional theatrics, accuse your Godly stance of containing components that it does not contain, but they will word their complaints in such a way, twisting words around, to where there is nothing you can reply. For one example: If you take a stand against the family traditions of the winter solstice holidays, and decline joining the family, they will see it as a 'hating' of -them- (the family); not what it truly is, a turning away from pagan observances. They might even resort to prostrating themselves on the ground before you in emotional outburst and tears, trying to 'embarrass' you into conformity... after all, it is -your- 'fault' that they are groveling on the ground in sorrow and tears... and what loving 'respectful' child would allow their mother to do -that-???
No...opposition and persecution does not necessarily predispose itself to being a sword whacking off a head, whip across the back, imprisonment, burning at the stake or being skewered from the groin up through the body to the neck and propped out in public view to die an agonzing death, or to have the mid-section cut open and bowels pulled out and trampled by horses and wagon wheels.
Satan is often more subtle, hoping, not only to cause suffering in God's children, but even more hopefully (on his part) to get the Believer to 'soften' their beliefs and to compromise. It is one thing to read how Paul was beaten and stoned...those are the more 'exciting' things to read. To go visit websites specializing in the "martyrs" around the world, and put out great sums of money to bring over from Russia and China (alleged?) 'believers' from the "underground church" and prop them up on display in the churches. But how many bother to preach from Rom16:17... "Now I exhort you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and snares, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and turn away from them." How many pastors and teachers will do series from Romans, expounding at great length on the Law, Grace, Israel, and all sorts of things, writing books on it...after all, Romans is the 'scholarly' book of the NT, and -they- are teaching from it, and wowing everybody with their vast knowledge and understanding. They are ones who "...do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple." (vs18) When doctrine is watered down, others are not taught God's Truth, and consequently do not get saved....and satan loves that! And that process often begins with the -subtle- 'embarrassments' from family and loved ones. After all, one doesn't want to 'offend', now, does one.
Well, the cross of Christ -is- 'offensive'. Paul calls it the "offense of the cross". (Ga5:11) Jesus became a "curse" for our salvation, as it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" (Ga3:13) Thus, as followers of Him, do we expect better treatment?
If this kind of talk is offensive to you, then you cannot be saved. It is not possible. When you consider becoming a Christian, you are not contemplating how 'wonderful' everything is going to be. If you simply find yourself in a "bit of a pickle" (like a local TV commercial says) and want a 'way-out', forget being a Christian! Your heart is in a different place. That's not what being "saved" is about. Biblical "salvation" is not about finding a better life on this earth. If life for you is rough, and you want to make it better here and now, go look somewhere else.
What Jesus offers and promises is trials, tribulation and hardships. As you contemplate it, the question you should ask yourself is: Are you up for it?
The Christian life is about a different place, a different allegiance and citizenship. The (Biblical) Christian "citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Php3:20) The goal is not on this earth, but Jesus' promise, "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (Jn14:3) And so, our striving through the worldly obstacles is in view of: "I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Php3:14)
That is why we "do not faint". Our bodies may be subject to all that the world hurls at us, but Jesus also promises: "rest for your souls" (Jer6:16, Mt11:29) and again: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (Jn14:27)
In many ways this is the greatest testimony the world will see. As long as they are unsaved, they cannot understand Doctrine; their natural minds are incapable of it. (1Co2:14) But what they can observe and be in wonderment about is: when they are hurling their barbs, to see the "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, [guarding] your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." (Php4:7)
Outwardly we may suffer, but our "inward man is being renewed day by day" And even if we were to be impaled/skewered, and set out, propped up to die in view of passers-by, scoffing at us, suffering a most excruciating death; in view of Eternity, that suffering is only merely "momentary".
The difference between most (so-called) [c]hristians and God's Children is that the follower of Jesus Christ is not contemplating the visible, but the invisible. What we see is fleeting, like the vapor that (Phoo!) is gone. (Ja4:14) But what we don't presently see with our eyes of "flesh and blood" (1Co15:50), but which we have the "certainty of the...hope" and the unseen "evidence" (Heb11:1), not necessarily because we've seen the evidence (that's why it's called "unseen"), but because we know who Jesus Christ is. As Paul says...
"For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep safe what I have committed to Him until that Day." (2Ti1:12)
Like that song (that nobody sings anymore): "I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future..."
Therein is our hoped-for blessed Eternity. Therefore we are not "afraid of their terror"; nor are we "troubled". We "do not faint" as we "...run with perseverance the race that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb12:1-2)