“You must have done something right,” she grinned at me. We’d both interviewed for the same job, which she had got, but then I’d been offered another post. Mine had turned out a whole lot easier than her class load of monkeys, and she was half way to desperate. For the same pay, I’d come out better than OK – that’s the favour of God, isn’t it?
So the disciples thought as they began their new jobs. They must have been feeling pretty pleased with themselves, being singled out by this very special man. Then he’d gone on to gathering huge crowds, preaching amazing sermons and healing all the sick; and they were right in the middle of the action, his chosen buddies, the in-crowd. They were the ‘poor in spirit’ who accessed the Kingdom of Heaven, the comforted mourners, the meek who would inherit the earth; they would be filled, see God, be called sons of God…be persecuted? Had they signed up for that? This last beatitude, Matthew 5:10-12 must have come as a bit of a reality check. “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…” Insults, persecution, slander. They hadn’t seen that in the job specs!
When we talk to people about being a Christian, it’s easy to tell them all the good stuff – how God forgives and loves you, gives you a free place in heaven, answers prayer, meets your needs… And that is all true. But so is the difficult stuff. Persecution is a possibility, and in some areas, a very real probability. But besides that, there is a cost. Obedience is not always easy. Forgiving others can be extremely challenging. Being a disciple, changing your lifestyle and being disciplined is not an easy road, especially when the early thrill of salvation was some way back. Sometimes it takes grit and determination to keep on keeping on, putting the old life away, spending time on building your relationship with God, giving generously of your time, effort and money to building in his kingdom. And it could get worse – like persecution. But that is what we are called to. All part of the job.
But you might want to look at the rewards. Remember pay day? “Rejoice and be glad, for GREAT is your reward in heaven.” God knows it can be hard. But it’s sooooooo worth it.