For many years, companies have hired celebrities to endorse their products. While modern disclosure laws usually require a disclaimer when someone is getting paid for a promotion, this principle is still alive and well. In fact, maybe you’ve watched online videos from so-called “influencers”, whose social media reach is enough to earn them compensation (or at least free products) from organizations who want their own brands displayed on these channels.
When someone who is respected endorses a product, one of the most compelling things that they can say is that they use the product themselves, and that it works for them. It’s one thing to have a spokesperson talk about the merits of a potential purchase, but when they say (truthfully or otherwise) that they have actually tried something out and like the results, this is more compelling.
In the same way, I think that we know that good leaders don’t ask their followers to do anything that they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves. And, for those who have studied what Jesus taught and lived out, we know that He suffered, endured, and sacrificed for us. There is nothing that He asks us to endure that He did not take on in some form (usually more severe than we will ever experience), and no kind of temptation that we face that He did not undergo (see Hebrews 4:14-16).
For Paul the apostle (and for us), serving, enduring, and sacrificing in hardship was no less than what his (and our) Lord and Savior chose to do.
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:8-10 NIV
So, what does Paul do when things get tough? He keeps going on. I’m sure that Paul’s body hurt frequently, and he dealt with sorrow (we see some evidence of that in 2 Timothy 1:15). I’m sure that he wanted to be free sometimes, and live a “normal” life. Still, he kept going. I like the word, “endure”. This wasn’t an easy road. Paul didn’t just put things on autopilot. Instead, he persevered despite the pain and challenges that he faced.
Just like Jesus, Paul endured some pretty bad things, because they (both Paul and Jesus) knew that something better was in store, and they loved others so much that they were compelled to share the cure (for the death of the soul), along with the secret to living life with joy and purpose. (Remember, in God’s kingdom, joy, purpose, and blessings are in no way incompatible with trials and suffering.)
Note Paul’s metaphor here: his body might be chained up, limiting his activities, but the word of God is never constrained. Sometimes the distribution of that great news is limited when we don’t share it like we should (as God prompts us to do so), but the power of God’s plan and Jesus’ message are enough to save everyone who will accept it.
The good news about Jesus Christ is unique. There is no message, solution, remedy, or activity that is more important to share. However, we are not left to our own devices when we share the message of salvation and the path of discipleship with others.
To be fair, sharing the gospel may come with Pushback or Persecution. Whether the “lightweight” pushback that we typically see in the U.S., or the more tangible harm that fellow believers experience in certain other parts of the world, this should be expected. However, there’s more than just the risk of running into opposition when we share the good news: we must be willing to give up our own convenience and comforts to be the best disciples of Jesus that we can be (see 1 Corinthians 9:19-23).
God’s message comes with Power. God shares the power of the Holy Spirit to help us reach a lost world, and the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power not only to turn our lives around, but also to transform the lives of others who we share it with.
Making disciples is part of our Purpose. Christians aren’t saved to just sit and wait until we get to Heaven. It is true that walking with Jesus (along with some of the blessings that this includes) begins while we still live on this earth, but we aren’t meant to just enjoy those things for ourselves. Like other good news in our life, we should share it with others. People may not care what their friends had for dinner last night (despite the pictures on their Instagram feed), but they should care about how their lives can be completely turned around for the better.
As a result, living and speaking for Jesus must be our Priority. There is nothing else that can’t wait when it’s time to make disciples. And, even as we take care of “normal” things in life, we can make discipleship a part of them (often at the same time).
In light of this Persecution, Power, Purpose, and Priority, remember this point from the Lookout (see the reference to the Christian Standard, below): “All things of significance cost something”.
So, get excited (or remain excited) about the good that Jesus Christ can make in a lost and fallen world. Whether you are telling someone about Him who has never heard about this amazing plan, or helping a faithful follower of Jesus grow in faith and action, don’t be afraid and don’t hold back. When God says, “go”, do it! It is worth some sacrifice in this temporary earth, in light of eternal benefits that we can share with others in Heaven.
From Sunday School lesson, prepared for and taught on October 11, 2020.
- Christian Standard, Volume CLV, Number 10, pages 83-84. © 2020 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, 1, 2 Timothy & Titus, by C. Michael Moss. Ph. D. College Press Publishing Company, © 1994.