From my experience and knowledge of persecution in the Western World, there are very few, if any, who understand the degree of suffering Christians go through in other parts of the world. What little we do know, the many who face harsh and brutal treatment, and still remain true to Jesus and their faith in Him, understand the amazing character we see in Paul.
Paul was so hated that Jews from Antioch and Iconium came to Lystra and “persuaded the crowds [to] stone Paul and drag him out of the city, supposing the he was dead” (Acts 14:19). As much as he was hated by the Jews, he was loved more by the disciples he won to Christ. Rather than retreating to a safe place, “the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe…preached the gospel…and made many disciples” (14:20-21). Present suffering was not a hindrance to the spread of the gospel.
You can be sure that Paul is not trying to make a hero of himself in any way, but is determined to press on “to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named” (Romans 15:20). Oh, that this degree of passion would grip our hearts today. When it does, suffering should be to us fellowship with Christ who suffered for us, leaving us a model (Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 2:21).
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