Sisters and brothers,
Happy Monday to all! Yesterday as we worshipped in song, we sought to behold the wondrous mystery of Christ Jesus who condescended and took on flesh to ransom us. Then we looked at the martyrdom of John the Baptist from Mark 6. We saw how John the Baptist’s suffering and death points us to the truth that following Jesus sometimes requires sacrifice and suffering. John spoke the truth to those in power and made powerful enemies who plotted to end his life. We learned again in this passage of Scripture that Jesus is the pearl of great price and the hidden treasure in the field. Whatever it cost us to know and follow Jesus, He is worth it! But that does not mean the price to follow Him will be small. There are times today and times throughout the history of the church that believers have paid the ultimate price. We can preach half a gospel that only tells of the good things about following Jesus. Or we can do like our brothers and sisters around the world do as they call others to faith in Jesus. A believer in a place where there is a high cost of following Jesus told a Western believer that in the West you tell followers of Jesus that they need to live for Jesus. But in our country, we tell people who will follow Jesus that they need to be willing to die for Him. Most believers will never be called to die for Christ. However, all of us will be called to sacrifice and suffer for Him as we follow Him. Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:12-13, as he was close to being executed for being a follower of Jesus: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” That is not the way it should be and not the way it will be when Jesus returns, but it is the way it is. We are not to seek suffering as we obey Jesus, but we are to know that it will sometimes come. I heard Hannah King say, “We are not called to be adversarial to the world or to appease the world. We are called to follow Jesus.” As we follow the One who suffered for us, we will sometimes suffer for Him. Our prayer should be that we will be ready when those times come. Following Jesus who suffered and died for us sometimes requires a willingness to suffer and die for Him.
We will observe the Lord’s Supper during our morning worship next Sunday, July 23.
Remember to keep praying continually for each other. None of us know fully the burdens our brothers and sisters in Christ might be carrying.
Love being your pastor!
Bob Ray, Pastor, East Madison Baptist Church