Summary: Suffering for Christ is most beautiful when it leads to serving others
We're going to continue with our series, Identity Check. We're in part 11. We have another message or two and we'll be done with that series. This morning, if you have your Bible, I would like for you to turn to the book of 2 Timothy. I want you to go to chapter 3 of 2 Timothy, and I want you to go down to verse 12 to begin with. It reads, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…"
In other words, anyone who sits here today, if you are a Christ follower and you desire to live for God, you desire to live for Christ, you will be persecuted if you're living for him in a world that still does not love him. It wants to reject him. I want to stand this morning and make us aware… I believe with all of my heart that in Western Christianity, for the most part, we avoid the subject of suffering like it's the plague a lot of times. The reason why is…let's face it…we like comfort. We like things to be kind of even keel.
But there's a problem. When I look back into the Old Testament, when I look back especially into the New Testament to the first-century saints, what I see is a church that is persecuted, a church that is full of suffering, but I also see a church that's full of power. I see a church that has power because suffering doesn't make them afraid. Suffering doesn't make them ashamed. In other words, they rejoice over the fact that they are counted worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.
When we look around the world, we see a lot of suffering, especially in the third world. If you travel and you're in world missions, you're going to find out very quickly that everywhere you go around the world Christians and Christ followers abroad pay a higher price for Christianity than we do. I believe with all of my heart there will come a day… It's already coming. We may not see it in our generation, it may be the next generation, but we're going to see more and more persecution and more and more suffering toward those who name the name of Christ.
If you remember last week I gave you a phrase. It went something like this: Suffering becomes beautiful when you look up, you look around, you look down, and you realize you are following Christ. That's how you deal with suffering. That's what we talked about last week.
What I want to talk about this morning, what I want to put deep in your heart this morning, is suffering for Christ is most beautiful when it leads to serving others. Do you hear me? I want to say it again. I want to slow down in this message this morning, because I really want you to get this. Suffering for Christ becomes most beautiful when it leads to serving others.
The founder of the Voice of the Martyrs had a video. He's dead and gone now. He was an incredible man of God. If you ever want to read about the Voice of the Martyrs you can look it up. He's Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. Look that up and read about his life. You can go online and find all kinds of videos about his life.
I remember a long time ago I came across a video. He was talking about a lady by the name of Anne Marie. It fascinated me, and I watched it several times, I remember. On about the third time watching it I began to weep, because I was under such heavy conviction about my life and just how easy I think we have it in Western Christianity sometimes. On one level I'm thanking God I don't have to go there, but on the other level I'm going, "But man, oh man. What a testimony of God."
He tells this story about Anne Marie. Anne Marie was this lady who, under the Communist reign, was responsible for one of the underground churches. She actually had a testimony about her life that went like this. She said, "I rejoice when I find myself at the hand of the abusers and the persecutors because it is the only time they get to hear the gospel." Whoa. Pastor Richard goes on to tell her story.
It said she was being beaten at the hand of a soldier who had caught her because of the underground church she was helping to run. He comes in and begins to beat her and slap her. He begins to abuse her. He's hitting her on the head. He's hitting her in the mouth. She falls to the floor. Blood is coming out of her nose. Blood is coming out of her mouth. She just keeps taking it, and she keeps looking at him and asking him…