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Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Conscious Fellowship with Jesus

On the surface it appears to be bad news when the Bible text says: "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). It sounds like a contradiction of what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, ... and I will give you rest. ... My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Why take up a cross of self-denial in order to follow Jesus if you have to endure "many tribulations"?

This apparently difficult statement of Paul does not contradict that of Jesus. If you decline to share with Him His cross of self-denial, you can also have "many tribulations," even more. Jesus didn't come from heaven to this earth to excuse us fallen children of Adam from all troubles; He came to share our troubles and give us the comfort of His presence with us.

But those troubles, which are the lot of all humanity, will be infinitely more difficult to endure if we deprive ourselves of "the fellowship" of Christ in "His sufferings" (Phil. 3:10). Good people and bad people alike suffer accidents, have heart attacks, strokes, break their hips, and yes, die. But the person who responds to Christ's invitation and "takes up [his] cross daily and follows Him" enjoys a most precious uplift. He has a conscious fellowship with the one and only Jesus, the Son of God, who endured the horror of our second death on His cross (which we will never have to endure!).

This text of apparently bad news is like a nut that has a sweet kernel inside that awaits our patience in cracking its hard shell.
--Robert J. Wieland

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