Responding to SufferingHow do you feel when your life is interrupted by suffering and adversity?
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He said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow Me” (v.23).
Amenities. Surprisingly, I heard someone use that word in describing a church they had chosen to attend. I understood that the individual was referring to the different ministries the church had to offer, but I was also reminded of the big difference between a fishing boat and a cruise liner.
In His last words to His followers, Jesus commanded them to “go and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). In short, He has called us all to be fishers of men. Without question, the life of a believer is fulfilling. But we miss the heart of the gospel when we make our commitments based on how much something has to offer us or whether it fits our needs.
The church is God’s chosen instrument to be the visible presence of His kingdom. Certainly, it’s appropriate for churches to reach out to the community around them through events, programs, and ideas that speak the gospel in practical, livable ways. Likewise, the church needs to be a place where individuals feel a sense of connection to others in their local body of believers.
But in all things, we must be authentic. At its core, the Christian walk is one of faith, and if we believe Hebrews 11 to be true, then there are those believers who never saw the complete fulfillment of their hopes this side of heaven (vv.35-40). In reaching the lost or in discipling believers, we must not present Jesus as if He functions like a bank—put something in, get something out. We have the riches of heaven in our possession because He suffered for us (Hebrews 2:10; 1 Peter 2:21).
Read Acts 14:19 and consider what motivated Paul in his life. How does today’s church compare?
What do you see as the role of your local church in your life? What kind of investment have you made in reaching those who are lost?
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