For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. Philippians 1:29. (EHV).
A scene from a particular movie has stuck with me since childhood. It’s a scene from a movie called “A Man Called Horse” with Richard Harris starring as an Englishman who lived with an Indian tribe. In it, the man, known to the Sioux as “Horse,” is initiated into the tribe. His chest is pierced, eagle talons are inserted in the pierce holes and then attached to long straps that are also attached to a center pole. The man then hangs from these straps until the talons rip out of his chest, proving that his suffering becomes enough to purify him as a warrior for his new people. The first sequel to this movie contains a similar scene.
Pretty gruesome stuff, eh? Now think about crucifixion. If you haven’t read up on just what happens during a crucifixion, go do it. Or watch “The Passion of the Christ.” Go watch the kind of thing that the Lord endured on our behalf. Or go watch “A Man Called Horse.” There. That’s what’s in store for you as a believer. It’s the kind of thing that Jesus had to endure, so if He can do it you or I can, right?
Don’t take it too lightly because I’m actually being serious here. Saying “I believe in Jesus” may some day take you to that level of physical agony. Just this past weekend I saw pictures of a woman who was whipped in Iran for professing her belief in Christ. I’ve read accounts of people in China and Indonesia and Saudi Arabia being executed for believing in Jesus; usually that comes after they have been tortured.
But to live is Christ and to die is gain, right? Yes, actually it is. The actual risk of death – or likelihood of it – is part of the reward. We live to share Him as heaven on earth, being part of heaven right now, here. It is a privilege to stand for the Most High. And when we die, we get to spend forever on adventure with Him in the fullest lives possible. The torture or circumstances of our passing won’t matter. Indeed, we’ll be thankful for them.
Until then, we may really be made to suffer here for our people. Whether it’s having our chests pierced to hang from a pole or, like Jesus, have our hands and feet pierced to hang from a tree, we may actually suffer real agony, real torture, real persecution in the name of Jesus. It would be for His glory, you see. And our gain.
For further reading: Matthew 5:11, Acts 5:41, Acts 14:22, Philippians 1:21, Philippians 1:30.
Lord Jesus, let it be Your good will if I am to suffer here for You. Thank You for the privilege. Abide with me through the pain into Your glory.