About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Faithful In Hardship
In our North American Christian culture the gospel of "come to Jesus and be happy and prosperous" is pretty prevalent. This is not necessarily the case in other parts of the world. Neither has it been the teaching throughout all of the centuries past.
In light of this thought I find what the Lord told Paul at his conversion quite interesting. Acts 9:15 and 16 says, "this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings, and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name". This was a prophetic word given to Ananias concerning Paul.
One important point to be made here is that we do not have the same ministry as Paul did. We may not suffer as much as he, yet over the years many have suffered just as much as Paul. Still there is much for us to learn by Paulís faithfulness to Jesus.
Paul was faithful to Jesus in all he suffered, and he suffered a lot. We all know the things he went through, from being stoned, put in jail, ship wrecked, loss of family and friends, times of starvation and so on. Why was he so faithful to Jesus? What kept him going?
I suppose you could come up with many reasons why Paul never gave up. One might be his conversion experience. He really met the Lord in all of His power the day he was converted. He did not accept ideas about Jesus. He met Jesus Himself. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, he knew his Lord.
Paul said in Philippians 3:8 "...I consider everything loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord." This says it all. Paul was faithful because He really knew Jesus. He personalized it by saying "my Lord". His perspective on life was completely changed. Once meeting Jesus he saw everything in a new light. His sufferings meant little to him. Knowing Jesus meant everything.
Paul was faithful because he knew Jesus in a real way. The same is true with us. If we want to be faithful to the end, knowing Jesus is the only way.