Monthly Archives: June 2016

Rejoicing, Rewards, and Recognition.

In Matthew 5:12, Jesus tells His disciples to rejoice in suffering. This is obviously an unnatural response to suffering, but nevertheless it is what Jesus calls His followers to do when they suffer for Him. How (and why) can followers of Christ rejoice in suffering? Two reasons:

1. We Will Be Rewarded. Those who suffer will be rewarded. Jesus said, “Your reward is  great in heaven.” The exact reward is not specified, but Jesus did say it would be great. Therefore, Jesus can call His followers to rejoice. Yes, suffering is painful now, but the future reward is great. It is worth it to follow Christ and suffer for Christ. Indeed, simply knowing Christ is a great reward and should enable us to rejoice in suffering.

2. We are Not Alone. You are not alone in your suffering. Historically, you are not alone. Others have suffered. Jesus said, “They persecuted the prophets who were before you.” The prophets suffered and were abused and rejected, and we should not be surprised when we suffer and are rejected. Jesus Himsef suffered and was rejected by men. So, when we suffer, we join a long list of godly men and identify with Christ in His suffering.

Christian, if you are following Christ and this leads to suffering, rejoice! Not because it is pleasant now but because it will be worth it in the future. Your reward will be great! Rejoice! Not because it is easy but because you know you are in good company. Other believers, and Christ Himself, have suffered, so rejoice in the fact that you can identify with Christ in His suffering, which means you will be able to identify with Him in glory!

SBC

I attended the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis this past week. It was one of the most attended annual meetings in years, and there were several interesting interactions during the meeting. I was particularly encouraged by two things: the stance taken by the SBC on the confederate flag and the compassion shown to the victims of the shooting in Orlando.

 
Those familiar with the history of the SBC are well aware of the sinful past of the convention in regards to slavery and racism. When the Northern Baptists refused to appoint Southern slaveholders as missionaries, the Southern Baptists formed their own convention. The SBC has publicly confessed this sin, and progress has certainly been made (although there is room for continued improvement). This past week, the SBC made further progress by passing a resolution regarding the confederate flag. The confederate flag is viewed by many as a symbol of hatred and racism, and the SBC passed a resolution encouraging churches and Christians to abstain from flying the flag. As James Merritt said in his speech, all the confederate flags in the world aren’t worth the soul of one person. I applaud the move and hope those in the convention who value the flag will be sensitive to the offensive nature of the flag in the minds of many and disavow its use.

 
In regards to the shooting, the SBC spent time in prayer for the victims in Orlando. Christians are often viewed as judgmental and hateful, but Southern Baptists expressed compassion and concern for the victims of the shooting and their families. While still affirming the sinfulness of homosexuality, the SBC demonstrated love and compassion for these victims and their families, praying for them specifically (something we did at my church on the Sunday after the shooting as well). It is possible to say that homosexuality is a sin and still show compassion to those who are involved in it.

 

So, these two things stuck out in my mind from the annual meeting. The Southern Baptist Convention and its messengers continue to push towards racial reconciliation, and they continue to stand for the truth of Scripture while still showing compassion and concern for the victims of the shooting in Orlando. May God continue to bless the SBC as its churches proclaim Christ and send out missionaries to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Starting Up…

Well, it’s been over six months! Family, school, and work got the better of me, but I am going to try to start up again. I plan on resuming my “devotions” from Matthew on Monday… let’s see how long I last this time!