The Platinum Standard
But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." NKJV
The first time we find this Greek word for ‘suffer’ used in the New Testament is in Matthew 16:21 where it says “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” You will agree with me that at Jerusalem, Jesus most cruelly suffered, and now in our text for today, Ananias is told to go to Saul with this other long lost Messianic message. We could sum it up in this way, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
Our present day branded and packaged Christianity gives only a vague hint (and the vaguer the better quite frankly) that suffering might occur, but if it does, it will be only to a very limited and chosen few, and way back when things were very bad and better still, way over there in a corrupt and different coloured foreign land.Indeed, ‘suffering’ as being part of the job description of the Christian disciple right now, is kept well hidden from the hand raised punter, who, after all, has bought in and traded up for love, joy peace and happiness. After all, who would want to come to such a message? C’mon! Who would be willing to take up their cross and follow Jesus, for pain, and all its manifestations are what we try and avoid each day, yet friends, this word ‘suffer’, means to experience pain. Now tell me, who wants that?
No one but a masochist wants pain. No one but a sadist wants to proclaim it or inflict it. Yet the very first words spoken about Paul is not “Tell him that I died for him, tell him that I love him, tell him that I have been waiting patiently for his response, tell him that following Me means no more loneliness, lack or longing for love ever again. Tell him about the smart pulpit suit, the TV fame, the German built chariot, the mansion down here. Tell him of the testimony of the grace and goodness of God which he will carry in all things ‘blingy’”. No, the first words, the very first words, and not just the initial words mind you, but the perpetual point of instruction for Paul is quite simply, “Tell him to come and meet my friend ‘Pain’”.
Tell me, who would want to hear such a cross embossed message today? Well, certainly not those poor pan handled people out to simply trade up their lives so as to put ‘more springs on their wagon’ down here. They are not interested in it. However, I wonder, if those willing to trade in their worthless and ruined, perverted and pointless lives for something clean and everlasting, for something with eternal purpose, might just count the partaking of such pain as no put off for them, but rather, a joy? I will admit that this is strange. I will admit it is rarely seen nowadays, but I wonder if its absence shows that we have been peddling in plastic objects rather than proclaiming the platinum standards of the disciples of the King of Kings.
Listen:- When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Mark 8:34-37 NKJV
Pray: - Jesus, Master, I do not want pain, neither do I choose it. However, I do want to follow You whatever it takes and whatever the cost, and so I accept that part of that parcel, which is pain. In this pain then, may I always choose life, in this pain then, may I always have the joy of Your presence and the knowledge of an everlasting peace and freedom yet to come. Jesus, Master, I do not want pain, neither do I choose it. But I do choose You. No matter what. Amen.