The Lord's Faithful Followers Will Experience Suffering
It has been eight years since I left China (in 1986). Having visited some churches in the Free World, I gained a deep feeling that, were it not for the enormous grace of the Lord, very few will, on the day we see Him, be called by the Lord as faithful and loyal servants, or wise virgins, whose life and service will be like gold, silver and precious stones. Without going through a prolonged period of trials, it is not easy for us to realize our true spiritual condition - which is why many co-workers (ministers) in China fell in the trials. I do not say this to discourage us; but rather to speak the truth in love - sounding the alarm to pre-awaken us to re-dedicate ourselves, while at the same time "forgetting those things which are behind, reaching forward to those things which are ahead, and press toward the goal" (Phil. 3:14).
The Lord's disciples testified to us that they had seen the resurrected Lord. Some had even seen the transfigured Lord in the mountain. Paul had encountered the Lord on his way to Damascus and had even been caught up to the Paradise. These disciples informed us of an absolutely real spiritual world. Faced with the sacrificial love of Christ and the eternal glory ahead, they cast away all things unpleasing to the Lord, just as Jesus had "for the joy that was set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2).
Paul said, "...Jesus Christ my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ (Phil. 3:8)." He also said, "I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my race with joy, and the ministry, which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:22-24)." Why was Paul so absolute and single-minded in his walk that he even suffered all costs? That is because he knew that if he followed the Lord faithfully in his earthly days and suffered for His name's sake, some day such light and transient afflictions would bring him far greater eternal glory. Also, constrained by the profound love of Christ as demonstrated on the Cross, Paul was certain that it was only appropriate for him to live faithfully in the Lord's will. May the Lord have great mercy on us, that we may imitate Paul just as he imitated Christ.