It spreads the gospel
Others listen to us more intently
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Very few people knew what Corrie ten Boom and Elie Wiesel knew. It is a small, painful fraternity. Yet there is something about these kinds of people who make all of us sit up and take notice – believers and unbelievers. All of us are more apt to listen to them. We have a greater respect for them because they suffered greatly – but not only that, they overcame their suffering. When we can say that we have met suffering in the face and have come out victorious, we are sharing in the fellowship of suffering. It is about an understanding and a knowing of the great sacrifice. Just like Jesus.
We don’t want our own righteousness. We don’t want to stand on our own. We want to share it all with Jesus. The idea is to understand Him and know Him when we share it all with Him.
When a match is struck against a hard surface, it causes a spark that erupts into a flame. Let us be the match that causes the spark that brings revelation and understanding to those who are thirsty and hungry for it. So yes there is fire and there is pain but there is also the spark of revelation to others around us. God will use us to spark in others the Holy Spirit – the revelation of Him.
“God will strengthen your heart in the trial, in the evil day. He will never leave His own. Every man burned at the stake for the faith has been a seed, a light, a torch, bringing in a new order. Let us keep the vision clear - pure in heart, upward, onward, heavenward – “until the day breaks and the shadows flee away” (Song of Solomon 2:17).” - Smith Wigglesworth
For a cause, any man can make a decision to kill himself and others with him. A true, perfect and great sacrifice is when a man has the desire to go on living. Yet because his beliefs are so precious to him, that man makes the decision to put himself in death’s way. To know the fire is there and to walk into it anyway proves true devotion. Even more, it proves the One to whom we are so devoted.
There is something freeing in the knowledge that we are going through unjust suffering because of Him. Once we come to the realization that even if we can walk away and get relief from the suffering, we wouldn’t because following Jesus and His will is more important than the easing of our pain. We experience true freedom because of that.
27"You will all fall away," Jesus told them, "for it is written:
" 'I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep will be scattered.'[a]
a. Zech. 13:7
I’m going to say something that might sound radical here: It is not for us to decide what things we are to pray against happening in our lives or to pray against bad things happening to us. If the disciples had heard this statement and decided to pray against it, they would have been praying against God’s plan. In order for the gospel to be spread throughout the world in the way that it had, the disciples had to be scattered. God’s plan was to use adversity to spread His word and His people throughout the region and then the world. In the age of little communication, God used adversity to spread the Word.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison.Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Stephen was stoned to death for his preaching of Jesus. He was the first martyr of the early church. Rather than pulling the believers together in such a difficult time, God allowed them to be scattered. Verse 4 is the key: These persecuted Christians preached the word wherever they went. This is how God spreads His word. He takes His seed (the believer) and scatters it all throughout the world. Even in the face of death and scattered from their friends and Christian brothers, these believers knew what was most important and that is to have Jesus Christ preached on every occasion. If we are always lifting up the name of Jesus, we are always in the right place. Everything else is secondary.
2 Timothy 4:16-18
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
You will notice that Paul never prayed to be spared from suffering. He believed he would be rescued from every evil attack but he didn’t ask not to go through the adversity. It was God’s will for him to be sent throughout the region in order to share in Jesus’ sufferings. People heard about it and were intrigued by men who were willing to face prison or death by themselves because the gospel was more important than their loneliness or to be imprisoned because of their beliefs.
"And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.
The testimony of God’s grace is more important than any hardship one could face. Once we understand the absolute gift that is God’s grace, once we have tasted of the sweetness of His perfect grace, everything else means nothing. We can testify to it under the most extreme conditions and under the threat of suffering or even death. It is that precious.
If not for unjust suffering, we would never have known the name Corrie ten Boom. We would have never known of Rachel Scott. We might have never heard of Jesus – because the greatest legacy of Jesus Christ is not His life, it is His death. The early church would never have heard of Paul.
Unjust suffering spreads the gospel. Nothing speaks to human beings like the witness of unjust suffering. It is something that can pique the interest and plant the seed of faith in both the believer and the non-believer. It is all part of God’s plan to advance the gospel.
Right now there are people making a stand for Christianity all over the world. They are making the decision to walk in harm’s way because sharing the grace of their King means more to them than their well-being or even their life here on earth.
Here are just a few of the incidents happening all over the world - as reported by Voice of the Martyrs: https://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx?clickfrom=bWFpbl9tZW51
China: On July 3, 2009, a house church was raided and eight Christians arrested in the A'Ler Tai area of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Eritrea: On July 23, Yemane Kahasay Andom, a Christian imprisoned for his faith in Eritrea died after authorities denied him medical treatment, according to Compass Direct News.
Iraq: On July 11 two bombs targeted churches in the cities of Baghdad and Mosul and killed at least four people and injured 30 others, according to VOM contacts.
Somalia: Islamic extremists have beheaded two boys in Somalia because their Christian father, 55 year-old Musa Mohammed Yusuf, refused to give them information about an underground church leader, according to Compass Direct News.
The extremists from the group al shabaab killed 11 year-old Abdi Rahaman Musa Yusuf and 12 year-old Hussein Musa Yusuf, after abducting them in front of their mother. The terrorists are currently looking for Yusuf in Kenyan refugee camps.