黙示録 1:9 私ヨハネは、あなたがたの兄弟であり、あなたがたとともにイエスにある苦難と御国と忍耐とにあずかっている者であって、神のことばとイエスのあかしとのゆえに、パトモスという島にいた。

Two parts of this verse stand out to me, and they are related. The first is the list John gives of things we share in Christ Jesus: suffering, the kingdom, and patient endurance. There are some today, particularly in the US, who focus almost exclusively on the “kingdom” part of that, with a triumphalism that doesn't go down well in much of the world and is certainly at odds with the Biblical record. On the other hand, I run into people all the time who seem to be focused on suffering, never mind whether it is in Jesus or not. They are so sour and pessimistic that you wonder why they are Christians! John knew all about the suffering and patient endurance because in the last part of the verse he mentions in passing that he was on the barren island of Patmos, used as a prison by the Romans, because of “the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus.” He was in the middle of suffering in Christ! However, he didn't have trouble with the “patient endurance” part of it, because he knew that in Christ he also was an heir of the kingdom of God. Some of the most triumphant passages in the whole Bible are found in Revelation, but John was no triumphalist. He was not saying we can sidestep suffering and don't need to endure patiently. He has a lot to teach us!


I need to be reminded occasionally of the kingdom that is ours in Christ so that my patient endurance may be strengthened, but I don't need to get upset at problems and suffering of various kinds, thinking they are something out of the ordinary. Buddhist philosophy says that life is essentially bad, which is why “nothingness,” escape from it all, is seen by Buddhists as the highest good. I deal with that mindset all the time, but I must not descend into it myself. I need to remember and preach that no amount of suffering we could endure on this earth could begin to compare with the glory that awaits all who are in Christ by grace through faith. Likewise, I need to remember and preach that God's grace and glory are not reserved for heaven but begin even now, and life even on this earth is filled with blessings, if we will open our minds and hearts to receive and recognize them. Frankly, I find that some people resent it when I live like that myself, because they see me as privileged when they aren't, not realizing that I have suffering as well, and the same grace and love are poured out on them, if they will only recognize it. I need patient endurance indeed in such situations, and I need God's wisdom and anointing to communicate the truth to such people in such a way that it will get through and set them free from the lies of the devil.


Father, thank You for Your overwhelming grace and love. Thank You for those times when they are expressed in things I find enjoyable, and thank You for those times when they take the form of trials that stretch and grow me, even when that is painful. Help me trust You so fully that I don't complain about anything, to others or even in my heart, but rather rest in the assurance that You are more than equal to anything that comes against me, and so delight to be Your child, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


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