One of the inspiring things I love to do is read stories of persons who kept preaching and sharing the gospel of Jesus in the most difficult circumstances, mostly when they were under persecution. In these conditions, whole families, villages, tribes, prison cells and communities have come to faith in Jesus Christ.
Having read some historical accounts of prisons in the days of the Early Church, I can imagine the physical suffering that Paul endured during these times. Yet, Paul never says much about his suffering except for 2 Corinthians 11:21-29. The power of Christ’s risen life was what propelled him forward in his mission. He prepares Timothy for this way of life in his last letter; “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the Word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:8–9).
When the power of resurrection in Jesus really grips our souls, we want to know that power even more. Nothing can stop those who make it their pursuit to live by this power “and share His sufferings” (Philippians 3:10). In such persons, “the Word of God is not bound!” If we judge how successful ministry will be by circumstances, we may miss the greatest opportunities to see God at work through His Word. Many measure success by numbers, buildings and money. God measures success by the strength of our devotion to His Son.
Paul follows this verse with, “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” (2:10). I was strongly reminded today that this eternal perspective must be mine in spite of any suffering God may allow me to go through. Seeing others captivated by salvation in Jesus Christ is my eternal reward!
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