Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.
I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you,
and you will suffer persecution for ten days.
Be faithful, even to the point of death,
and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Revelation 2:10 (NIV)
I would love to go on a cruise up the west coast of Canada to Alaska. Hearing from many friends who have made this holiday trip everyone is highly enthusiastic about the journey. The rugged beauty of the coastline of Canada is enough to inspire the worst cynic.
I have seen brochures that contain spectacular photos of the scenery and wildlife. Some brochures even speak of a cruise with famous Bible teachers who give daily devotionals on board certain ships in the context of God’s brilliant handiwork.
Many of us will only dream of such a wonderful adventure but we will never actually take the trip.
Our verse for today is a travel brochure but with a terrible twist. Instead of describing the marvellous food, relaxing bands that play into the evening, and the beauties of creation, the traveller will see, the verse speaks instead of pain and suffering that is on the horizon for the visitors.
What kind of promotional material is this? If such tragedies await the traveller why make the journey? By speaking in this manner the author of these words makes the reader hesitant. Words like suffer, prison persecution, and death will all cause the prospective tourist to consider declining to take the trip.
But there are positive things about this invitation as well. First we recognize that the invitation is honest. There is nothing “sugar coated” about it. Those who make this journey will have difficulties that will be great. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said once,
“When Christ calls a man He bids him come and die.”
Yet, for all the warnings of suffering in the Christian life we notice in our verse today that there is the promise of life to those who lose their life for the sake of Christ. Life eternal is the crown for those who are faithful unto death.
Will you accept the suffering today for eternal life tomorrow? Jesus said that the one who would not die for Him is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:38). He also said elsewhere that the person who would try and save his life would eventually lose it (Matthew 16:25).
Is it not the essence of wisdom to give up what you will never keep in order to gain what you shall never lose? Our great prize as believers—is Jesus Himself. If we truly love Him then no sacrifice is too great to make in order to be certain of having Him forever. Do not be afraid—rather be faithful to Him now, whatever the cost and you shall win Him as your eternal prize.