Well Orlando told you that last Sunday, we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of our ministry at Bethlehem. And it’s a time for gratitude, I told the people, a time for regret, and a time for hope. And the gratitude, of course, is based on memory. And so I thought back to the beginning, twenty years ago in 1980, and the first sermon that I preached when I came. That was a sermon on Philippians 1:19–25.
Joy Is the Mission
And I want to begin with one of the points that I began with there. Let me read the key verse. Paul says,
Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.
And I said to the people, the apostolic mission was to stay on planet earth for the joy of the people of Philippi. Which is why I’m coming to Bethlehem. I am here for the advancement and the joy of your faith. I wonder if you pastors realize that’s your mission. Indeed, every Christian should share in this mission to advance the joy of those who don’t have it in Christ. That’s our reason for being.
The apostle Paul is one of the greatest men who ever lived. He was an intellectual giant. And he suffered more than anybody in this room, probably, has ever suffered. And he said his mission on planet earth was to glorify God through joy in the other people, by bringing people to rejoice in God. That was his mission. Let me try to confirm this so you don’t think it’s an isolated point in Paul’s understanding of his own mission. Here’s a verse from 2 Corinthians 1:24, where he said,
Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.
And you would have expected him to put the word faith in there: “We’re not lording it over your faith; we’re workers with you for your faith.” But that’s not what he said. He said, “We are not lording it over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy.” His mission, his work, was joy. He suffered to bring joy — everlasting joy — into people’s lives. That is not a small goal; it is the goal.
I remember in those early days at Bethlehem, I was new, I was 34 years old. And it was mainly older people in this downtown church. And some of them did not like me. They didn’t like this talk, they didn’t like my exposition, they didn’t like the way I dressed, they didn’t like the way I led the service. And on Sunday evenings they’d sit in the back several rows with their arms crossed, daring me to get them to sing, or in any way be happy that I was there, or that God was there, as far as I could tell.
And I remember I did some things there that I have told many pastors to do. I looked them right in the eye and I said, “You know, I love you. And I’m going to out-rejoice you and outlast you.” And I did; they’re all dead. And some of them became very precious supporters. New pastors, remember this: some of your present adversaries will someday be your strongest supporters. Just love them enough and out-rejoice them. I suppose when pastors call me and ask for advice about this or that, that’s one of the most common pieces of counsel I give: out-rejoice them, out-rejoice them, out-love them.
How Christ Is Magnified
Now those are almost the same — out-rejoice them and out-love them. And if you could explain that right now, I would just close my book and sit down — that out-rejoicing and out-loving are almost identical; they’re almost synonymous.
Let me explain with Hebrews 13:17, which says,
Obey your leaders [pastors/elders] and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning [or murmuring], for that would be of no advantage to you.
Now think about that. This text is calling the congregation to help, by prayer, by support, by submission, help their pastor be happy in the ministry of the word. And then he explains why that is so essential. Because, he says, if that doesn’t happen, it’ll be of no advantage to you. Now joy and love, joy and love — I said they’re almost the same as you pursue them over your people. Now do you see it in the verse? Let the pastor do his work with joy because if he doesn’t, if he’s a murmuring, depressed, discouraged, legalistic, duty-driven pastor, you’ll get no advantage out of it. That means, if he’s not pursuing his joy, he won’t be blessing you, and that’s and unloving thing for a pastor to do. Therefore, to out-rejoice and out-love are the same — at least, they are largely overlapping realities.
Now here’s my question: Why is joy so central in the apostle Paul’s thinking? And here’s the answer: joy is so central, so vital, in our lives because joy in Christ — joy in all that God is for you in Christ — magnifies and glorifies the truth and the beauty and the worth of Christ more than if you lived your life without it. Now that’s an understatement. That’s putting it mildly. The reason joy is central in the life of a Christian is because joy magnifies the worth, the truth, the beauty, the greatness of Christ, especially when the joy is preserved through suffering.
When Death Is Gain
Now let me go back to that sermon twenty years ago. If you have a Bible you might want to open it. In fact, keep it open. I’ll return to this text two or three times. Philippians 1:20–21. I was speaking these words through the apostle Paul, but it was my desire as I came to my church, it still is my desire for my church, it is my desire in this room right now, it’s my desire for the rest of my life, and when I lie like Jim Boice on his deathbed, I want it to be my desire there. So this is an important verse to me.
It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Now the reason I quote this verse is because it contains the argument that I just assumed in stating why joy is so central Christian living — namely, that it magnifies Christ. That’s in these verses. But I want you to see it clearly. So let me linger here for a moment. “My aim,” he says — and everybody surely in this room, unless you just came here curious, would agree with this for yourself: “My aim is that Christ would be shown big, magnified.”
I was sitting for R.C. Sproul’s talk way in the back. And he was looked so small. If I looked at this pulpit, there was just a teeny little R.C. And then you lift your eyes up there or there or there to the screens, and he’s big. That’s magnifying, right? Your life is meant to take the Christ — who is not little, but looks little to the world — and make him look like that. You can’t tell what color the tie is by looking at the pulpit, but if you look at one of the screens, you could probably even tell it’s one of those library ties that half of you have on tonight. So we want people to be able to see the little books in his tie, the wrinkles in his face, the scars on his hands. Your life exists to magnify Jesus.
Now how do you do it, from these verses? It says that you do it in life or in death, “for to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Let’s collapse down to the death half here. I want Christ to be magnified in my dying, “For to me to die is gain.” How will Christ be shown to be great in your dying? Answer: when dying is gain to you. Now why would dying be gain to you? Philippians 1:23:
My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
So death is Christ. Sure, Paul has lots of Christ now, by the Spirit. But, oh, so much more when he dies. And therefore, he wants more of Christ, and therefore, he looks at leaving his friends, he looks at leaving the earth, he looks at leaving family — or let’s just bring it to me. I look at leaving Noël and Karsten and Shelly and Millie and Benjamin and Barnabas and Abraham and Talitha, and my staff (five of us collectively there 82 years at this church), I look at leaving you, and the pleasures of talking about Christ in public on the earth, I look at leaving the beauty of nature, and I say, “Loss. Gain.” Because Christ is so superior. So to the degree that death is gain to me and satisfying to me, Christ is shown to be great in my dying.
So if you want Christ to be magnified in your life, you have to be satisfied in him in your dying, which is another way of saying that joy in Christ is the key to magnifying Christ. A joyless Christian is a very bad advertisement for the all-satisfying glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now suffering — bring all of that together with suffering. What I’ve said so far in this message is foundation for understanding the biblical relation between suffering and joy. And here’s the relationship: the suffering of God’s saints is appointed by God, so that in it, our joy in God would make the worth of God be seen as more precious than what we lose when we suffer. Suffering is appointed by God for his saints for this purpose: so that as we persevere in joy in God, through suffering, he is shown to be more valuable than what we are losing as we suffer. That’s why you suffer for God’s sake. Now I know at this point there would be some stumbling over the word appointed: God has appointed suffering for his saints. There are old-time liberals like William Barclay. I want to pick on William Barclay here because far too many evangelicals of my generation read his books and commentaries. Barclay said in his spiritual autobiography, “I believe that pain and suffering are never the will of God for his children.” Today it goes on among the open theists especially: “God does not have a specific divine purpose for each and very occurrence of evil. God does not have a specific purpose in mind for the occurrences of suffering.” And yet I said that they are appointed by God for a purpose.
There are so many hymns that we sing, and we don’t know what we’re singing. They’re so good. Thank God for great hymns. There was a hymn writer (she didn’t write many) named Karolina Wilhelmina Sandell-Berg, who wrote the hymn “Day by Day.”
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best — Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.
Do you believe that? That our loving Father bestows on each day it’s proper proportion of pain and pleasure?
Given to Suffer
But we don’t need to take her word for it. We have it right here in our text in Philippians 1:29:
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.
Now the word granted in English kind of takes the edge off the word, which is the same, old, simple word give: “It is given to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer.” It’s a gift from God. God has granted to you to believe, and he has granted to you to suffer. It’s a gift from God that you suffer.
John Bunyan spent twelve years in prison, and near the end of his life, for his suffering church, he wrote a book called Seasonable Counsels: Advice to Sufferers. And the whole book is an exposition of 1 Peter 4:19, which says, “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” According to the will of God — and what an exposition of suffering that book is. Get his collected works and read it. And there are, of course, dozens of other texts we could go to like Genesis 50:20: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” “You meant it for evil,” Joseph said to his brothers, “but God meant it for good” — not just used. It’s an intentional word — not a result, but an intention. God meant it for good when Joseph was sold into slavery.
So even though there’s a stumbling over appoint, I say that the reason for suffering in our lives is that it is appointed by God so that he, through our joy in him through suffering, might be seen to be more valuable than what we lose when we suffer.
Now let me just lay on the table some texts that link suffering and joy, so that you’ll know the breadth of the concern.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:11–12)
We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3–5)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (James 1:1–3)
Rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (Peter 4:13)
You had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. (Hebrews 10:34)
Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. (Acts 5:41)
Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1–2)
I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)
Even if I am to poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial offering if your faith. (Philippians 2:17)
Make sure you understand that: “Even if I am poured out as a libation, even if I do die for you, and my blood is shed for you, and my life drains out for you, I am glad and rejoice with you all.”
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. (Colossians 1:24)
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. (1 Thessalonians 1:6–7)
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. (2 Corinthians 8:1–2)
That’s Christianity. Grace came down, joy came up, and liberality overflowed in affliction and poverty. That’s Christianity. Don’t you want to be like that? There would have to be a lot of simplifying of life to be like that in America in the church.
Purposes of God in Your Suffering
Now, here’s the question I suppose: How can you be joyful in this? What’s the key? Are there keys? There are many. The key is trusting God: that he’s good and that’s he’s sovereign, and that he works this suffering, for you and for those around you, for things you never will imagine. I know that thousands in this room right now are walking through suffering right now. And I want to say in the name of God Almighty, that if you are a child of God, God is at work gloriously through this for your benefit, and the benefit of many around you.
So I want to mention some purposes that God has in your suffering, in order to kindle joy.
1. God means for suffering to deepen our holiness and faith.
We’ve just heard it from Ajith Fernando. Pray for Ajith. I got an email from Ajith three days ago, just pleading for prayer. He’s exhausted. He is one great servant of God. I love Ajith Fernando. Pray for Ajith, even now.
God uses suffering for deeper holiness and deeper faith in your life. God disciplines us for our good that we share his holiness. I have never in my life heard anybody say, “I have become more holy and learned the deepest lessons of Christlikeness in the easiest, most comfortable, brightest days of my life.” Never have I heard anybody say that. Instead, what I’ve heard over, and over, and testified to myself, is that holiness comes through pain. Paul put it like this with regard to his own faith in 2 Corinthians 1:8–9:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death.
And then he puts in a purpose clause. And this is not the purpose of the devil; it is the purpose of God. Because the devil doesn’t have these kinds of purposes.
But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. (2 Corinthians 1:8–9)
God ordained that every prop be knocked out from under Paul until he had nothing left to fall upon but the God who raises the dead. That’s where Jim Boice is tonight. He has one choice: despair or resurrection. And we know where he is. God cares about your faith very deeply. And he will do whatever it takes to take you deeper with him.
2. God intends suffering to increase our capacity for glory.
Suffering makes your cup increase, so that when it is tossed into the ocean of everlasting joy in heaven, it will contain more, if you have suffered joyfully on the earth. In other words, suffering is designed to make your capacity to experience the glory of God larger in heaven. Let me read you the text. 2 Corinthians 4:17:
This light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Just note one word: preparing, working. This light momentary affliction is working, working, working. It’s not just that the reward in heaven is awaiting us and thus sustaining us through suffering. That’s true. It’s that the suffering is working the capacity to sense more fully the weight of glory there than if we hadn’t suffered and enjoyed it here. Jonathan Edwards said,
It will be no damp to the happiness of those who are of lower degrees of happiness in glory, that others are more advanced in glory above them. For all shall be perfectly happy. Every one shall be perfectly satisfied. Every vessel that is cast into the ocean of happiness is full, though there are some vessels far larger than others. And there shall be no such thing as envy in heaven, but perfect love shall reign through the whole society.
One of the things God is doing in your suffering is preparing you to enjoy him more in heaven than if you had not suffered. So one of the aims of God in suffering is to enlarge your cup.
3. God uses our suffering to make others bold in the gospel.
Our suffering serves to make others bold if we rejoice in it. Paul, writing from prison, says in Philippians 1:14,
And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.
You’ve tasted this, haven’t you? Either in watching someone bear suffering in faith and joy, you’ve been made bold, and have been weaned off this world to take a risk for Jesus. Or you’ve done it in a biography the way Henry Martyn did in reading Brainerd. Listen to what Henry Martyn said on May 12, 1806, as a missionary to the Persians.
My soul was revived today through God’s never-ceasing compassion, so that I found the refreshing presence of God in secret duties; especially was I most abundantly encouraged by reading D. Brainerd’s account of the difficulties attending a mission to the heathen. Oh, blessed be the memory of that beloved saint! No uninspired writer ever did me so much good. I felt most sweetly joyful to labor amongst the poor natives here; and my willingness was, I think, more divested of those romantic notions, which have sometimes inflated me with false spirits.
Brainerd died, at age 29, coughing up blood the last seven years of his life, as he rode horses through the woods of the Northeast, winning a few Indians to Jesus. And Jonathan Edwards wrote his biography, and tens of thousands of people have been made bold for God because of it. And therefore, never, ever, ever, ever think that there was a wasted life in David Brainerd, though he died at 29. Nothing is wasted in the service of King Jesus.
We all know the five martyrs in Ecuador. Elizabeth Elliot has done us well. But there are lesser lights perhaps, like Roger Youdarian and his wife Barbara. She wrote that night, on January 1956:
Tonight the Captain told us of his finding four bodies in the river. One had tee-shirt and blue-jeans. Roj was the only one who wore them. . . . God gave me this verse two days ago, Psalm 48:14, “For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our Guide even unto death.” As I came face to face with the news of Roj’s death, my heart was filled with praise. He was worthy of his homegoing. Help me, Lord, to be both mummy and daddy.
That’s powerful. That’s powerful. And do you not hear it, women, who are about to lose your husband or your child, and want to be like that? Doesn’t it have that function? Or fathers with children dying. Doesn’t it have the function when the saints suffer with praise and with joy that it was the appointed time? And though the pain is indescribable, we will praise him who guides us unto death. Does that not that function in the world to do what nothing else can do for the cause of Christ? What a shattering to the apathetic saints whose lives are empty in countless comforts.
4. God intends for our suffering to complete Christ’s afflictions.
The suffering that we experience in Christ and for Christ completes what is lacking in his afflictions — at least it could. Colossians 1:24 says,
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
Now everybody in this room knows that nothing is lacking in the atoning of afflictions of Jesus. What’s lacking then? What’s lacking is the presentation of those sufferings, in person, to those for whom he died. And one of the means of the Great Commission to get it done, which God has designed, is that his sufferings will be presented to those for whom he died in the skin of his emissaries. “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:16), and “I die every day” (1 Corinthians 15:31).
In 1992, I was at Trinity Seminary, hidden away, working on a project for a month. And I got word that J. Oswald Sanders, who was at that time 89 years old and a great missions statesman, was speaking in chapel. And I didn’t want anybody to know I was there because I was working. But I snuck in the back to listen to this great man. He said, by the way, that he had written a book every year since he was seventy. Nineteen books after he was seventy. What a way to retire! That is terrific. Oh, that all Americans would learn from J. Oswald Sanders to get to work when you’re seventy. Don’t go play golf, or move to Orlando and bask in the sun, and get all leathery.
And he told the story of an evangelist in India. He was a poor man who knew the gospel well. He tramped across a days’ worth of hills, and came to a village. The sun was about to go down. And he thought that though he was tired, he would tell the gospel to the unreached village. So told the gospel to them. They scorned him and ran him out of town. And in discouragement and exhaustion, he lay down under a big tree and fell asleep.
And just at dusk, not long later, he was startled out of his sleep, with the village crowded all around him. And he thought they were going to harm him. And the chief of the village leaned over and said, “We came out and saw your blistered feet and decided you must be a holy man with an important message. And we would like you to tell us again.” “I complete in my sufferings the afflictions of Jesus.” And Paul said he did it with joy. Because what could be greater than to have a village believe because you had blisters on your feet?
5. God means for suffering to spread the gospel.
Suffering enforces the command to spread the gospel. Oh, how lazy we are as a church! How apathetic and lethargic we are! And God spurs us on. Acts 8:1 says,
And there arose on that day [of Stephen’s murder] a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
Now that ought to ring a bell in your mind, Bible knowers. Judea and Samaria. Where’s the only other place in the preceding chapters where those two words come together? Acts 1:8:
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
And they hadn’t. They hadn’t been his witnesses. They had stayed put. There’s a good harvest in Jerusalem. Go to places where there’s a good harvest. Grow a big church; don’t plant churches where it’s hard. Don’t go to people groups that are resistant. If that’s your mindset, brace yourself for suffering. On that day a great persecution arose because what obedience will not achieve, suffering will achieve. He will get his people moving if he has to kill them to do it — kill his favorite. Surely not Stephen, Lord. Surely he will not have to pay this price — Stephen, the one whose wisdom they couldn’t answer, the one whose face shone like an angel, the one who new his history by heart, the one who understood the temple, the one who had the grasp of the gospel. “I’ll take Stephen. We’ll create a persecution here that will move these people into mission.”
Let us rejoice that the story could be told over, and over, and over again. And the point here is not simply that God turned setbacks into triumphs, that God takes a Stalin and the way he maneuvered some Korean people into Tashkent, and Christianity spreads in a way that nobody ever dreamed, because there Christians among those Koreans. Let us exult that God is sovereign over those kinds of movements in history. But the point is this: comfort, ease, affluence, prosperity, safety, freedom, these things, which we hope and pray will unleash more missionaries and more resources don’t. Weakness, apathy, lethargy, self-centeredness, preoccupation — “Aren’t there people at home here who need Jesus?” Let the thousands of unreached peoples go to hell without the slightest testimony to Christ, while Christian radio stations abound all over the place in America.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune said that the poorest fifth of the church gives 3.4 percent of its income to the church, and the richest fifth of the church gives 1.6 percent. What does that tell you? The harder it goes, the more people give; and the easier it goes, the less people give. Who cares about prosperity? God, deliver us from prosperity. God, give us whatever we need. And I know this can be abused, I’m not calling for you to jump off the temple and put God to the test, to try to walk on water or throw yourself on a sword. I’m just saying that if we hear things like this, if we read things like this, and the Spirit of Jesus Christ who counted it all joy to endure the cross, we will embrace more paths of love that are risk-taking and costly. We will. And I’m calling you to it. Orlando’s not an easy place to do a conference like this. Good grief, what did we do, putting it here? Well this is exactly where it needs to be. Let’s not be glib about this. The price was Stephen’s life; it was Stephen’s life. He had a wife, perhaps; children, perhaps.
6. God uses suffering to magnify the supremacy of Christ.
Finally, the supremacy of Christ is manifest in suffering when we suffer joyfully. Here’s another text besides the one I gave you from Philippians 1:20–21. Second Corinthians 12:9:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
“My grace is sufficient for you,” Christ said to Paul, because he wouldn’t take away his thorn. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weak endurance of this thorn, if you will trust me and rejoice.” To this Paul responded, “I will all the more gladly will I boast of weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities.” Can you believe this man? Content, glad, with (let’s not read them too quickly) weakness, insult, hardship, persecutions, calamities. “For when I am weak then am I strong.”
Persevere Through the Pain
So here we are back where we began. The point of suffering is so that the glory, the beauty, the worth, the truth, the all-satisfying supremacy of Christ might be seen and magnified in the joy of those who count him more to be desired than all that they are losing in suffering for his sake. Gratitude is a wonderful way to show glory the God, but nothing like joy in suffering. Because when you’re grateful for all of God’s gifts, the world looks at that and says, “I can do that. I can do that. I can say thank you when I’ve got health, I can say there when I’ve got wealth, I can say thank you when I’ve got a job, I can say thank you when nobody’s upset with me.” That’s no big testimony. It’s good; it’s good to be thankful. It’s just no big deal in the world. It’s a big deal to God. If you’re not thankful you’re lost.
But what’s a big deal in the world is when you suffer and count him — not his gifts; they’re all being taken away — count him as all satisfying. Then the world cannot explain, and they might ask you a reason for the hope that is in you. Anybody ask you a reason recently for the hope that is in you? Do you know why? You’re not suffering very much. And therefore, you have no occasion to show that Jesus is superior to the computer or the car or the lake home or your health or your family. Jesus makes very clear how we rejoice in suffering.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:11–12)
So I’m calling you here as I close, I’m calling you to a radical, war-time simplification of your life, and the embrace of the Calvary road of love. You all know people that you could love more, that would be more costly to love. Let’s just start simple. You know people who you could talk to that would be risky to talk to. You don’t have to jump off the temple. You just have to be loving — radically, mouth-opened loving in hard places, in risky places. And then you’ll have an occasion to prove that Christ is great, and is magnified in your life.
Orlando quoted my favorite sentence: God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. And let’s just add this as we close: he is even more glorified in you when you are satisfied in him, if your satisfaction in him is persevering through pain.