Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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Have you ever anticipated a ride on small seats on tracks that go high up and then speed down and sharply curve?  It’s called a roller coaster ride.  I still remember my first experience when I was a boy. I was standing in line and was waiting for my turn. I felt excited and a bit nervous. But the wave of excitement was so much greater than that of fear. Fear came later.

I remember how we boarded, were strapped in our seats, and started moving up, higher and higher. We finally went up so high that it seemed to me that I could touch the sky. I have to admit at that moment I wanted to ask someone to stop the ride and bring me back down. But, it seemed, that no one cared. I will never forget how I was overwhelmed with fear when we were racing down. It looked as if we would hit bottom.

The disciples of Jesus, perhaps, experienced something similar.  Spiritually they were moving up higher and higher. They were entrusted with special powers to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons (Mat. 10:8). But then, quite suddenly, they heard Jesus saying that it's not going to be like that all the time. The persecution will come; they will be beaten, they will be cast out from their synagogues, even their relatives will persecute them (Mat. 10:16).

When we talk about Christianity today we tend to lower the importance of following Jesus. We often talk about all the blessings that the Christian life can bring, we talk about the ultimate reward of heaven. But this message of Jesus is different. He said that the Christian life is not only a beautiful and joyous ride; it is like the roller coaster ride that I mentioned above, and like the experience of the disciples.  You can get excited, but then comes the fear when we go through pain and suffering.  We could be hated and persecuted, but this is what it means at times to carry the cross and follow Jesus (Matt. 10:38).

But why are Christians willing to suffer for the sake of Jesus? The answer is our love for Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). True followers of Jesus love Him more than anything and anybody else in the whole world (Matt. 10:37).

Oleg Kostyuk
Host of Cross Connection
Hope Channel