“They preached the good news in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said.” Acts 14:21–22 (NIV84)
It isn’t easy! The Christian life, I mean. C.S. Lewis once said, “If you are looking for a religion that promises an easy life, pick one other than Christianity.” Lewis was keenly aware that the Christian life was marked with trials, suffering, and persecution. Jesus Himself warned us that we would suffer for His name’s sake. The evil forces of this world hold nothing back in trying to upset the direction and movement of the kingdom of God. Jesus says of the Evil One: “He is a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies he speaks his native language because he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). Again Jesus says, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10). It is not a question of whether we will face trouble, but a question of when, and how often.
So what can we do? As said in our verses for today, we need to strengthen and encourage one another to remain true to the faith. We need the support of other Christians to encourage us to stay strong and stay committed to the faith. Satan so wants to disrupt our faith and make us ineffective for God’s kingdom. We need to boldly cling to the truths and promises of God’s Word. We need to walk by faith and not by sight. We need to unite ourselves in homothumadon (one-mindedness) so that we might defeat the Devil’s schemes and arise victorious as God’s Word promises we will. This is not a time to water down the truth so we might be more acceptable to the world around us. We need to boldly shine like stars in a dark and gloomy world (even if we face suffering for doing so) so that we might win those in darkness to the light of Jesus Christ.