It has become a real issue with me to try and work my way through the constant demand and comment from many Christian sources that ‘we need to suffer to be serving Jesus.’ This especially goes back to the early Church Fathers and early saints that were abused, tortured and killed for the faith they proclaimed. There is no question that many of these horrible things happened and are still happening in our own time.
Even while reading the gospels I know that a certain expectation of ‘suffering’ will come with the territory of the Gospel of the Kingdom. After a number of years of trying to be a disciple of Jesus…I know this is true.
But, I must say, I do not see the focus on ‘suffering’ and think it is rather naïve to think so. If we are truly in the process of being followers and apprentices of Jesus, we are of course different, changed, unusual, and not like most people in our society and culture. Being out of step with the cultural customs is always going to be costly. What else could or should we expect from being a ‘follower of The Way?’ I think to say we are ‘suffering’ is many times a play on self-pity, self-promotion and self-aggrandizement…and maybe especially this! What did we think would be the result of being a follower of Jesus? Especially if we go beyond some ‘salvation gospel about getting saved’ message and enter into daily Kingdom living.
“Follow me.” Jesus