His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
— Acts 6:40–42 NIV
Seriously? The disciples went away rejoicing that they were chastised, ridiculed and beaten with whips? They actually considered this a good day? I only wish this was true of me. For the most part, I do everything I can to make sure that my life is marked by comfort and ease.
Now I don’t feel that I have to go around looking for ways to be persecuted for my faith, but I do believe that a life marked by true commitment to the kingdom cause will result in some trials and tribulations. Quite honestly, this world is wrought with tragedy, and the Christian is not exempt. I also believe that those who are not in Christ will suffer in this life, only for different reasons and without a legitimate hope for ultimate restoration.
The Christian is not promised that they will be spared from these inevitable difficulties, but that they will be saved through them. As we discussed previously, God will take them and redeem them for his glory. That obviously happened in this passage above. The disciples’ resolve and willingness to embrace the struggles they found themselves in the middle of is a story that is being told all around the world today. In the end, it isn’t so much about them as it is about the power that the indwelling Christ made in them.
Taken out of context, perhaps one of the strangest passages of scripture is found in Colossians:
Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church,
— Colossians 1:24
In what way is Christ’s suffering considered “lacking”? I believe the answer is that you and I are actually physical representations of Christ in the world in which we live. When the world sees our response to pain, suffering and persecution, they see a tangible picture of Christ’s power. We preach a sermon with our lives.
I am always encouraged by the lives of Christians that are well disciplined. I am even more encouraged, however, by those who cling tightly to their faith in the dark times. There is just something that is so inspiring about the hope that propels them forward in uncertain times.
So the next time you go through a time of pain and suffering, try slapping a buddy a high five. There is just something about it that will paint a picture of Christ and extol him as the treasure that he truly is.