I once had a friend in Grade 12 who said: “Life isn’t as easy as crossing a field.” He was right. I suppose it matters where the field is, I mean is it in the city of Mogadishu or the comfortable places of Northern Canada.
And once we have surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ and accepted Him as Saviour, or should I say, accepted Him as Lord – then the difficulties really begin. Jesus Christ both Saviour and Lord.
Any normal person does not want to go to hell. And the Bible says: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).
In order to go to heaven we need a Saviour, someone who will save us from our sins. Jesus said:
“That is why I said that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins” John 8:24.
The Bible says:
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” – Romans 10:9.
Let’s look at Paul’s life in the New Testament. Paul was miraculously saved when Jesus appeared to Him in a vision during the day, causing a great light to shine around Him, Jesus spoke to Paul, causing him to go blind, and three days later sent a believer to him to heal him of his blindness.
But what did Jesus say after Paul was saved from his sins:
“Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake” – Acts 9:15-16.
Paul was going to suffer a lot for preaching the name of Jesus; and what did Paul do right after he heard this news, the Bible says:
“And immediately he began preaching about Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is indeed the Son of God!” Acts 9:20.
Paul was persecuted for proclaiming that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. But that’s not all. God also sent a tormenting spirit to trouble Paul during Paul’s earthly ministry here on earth. Some people think that Paul had some sort of sickness, an illness, and asked Jesus to heal him; but it wasn’t an illness, it wasn’t a sickness. This is once again Christian mythology. Paul had a demonic being sent to be a messenger to him to ensure that Paul was afflicted just enough so that he would keep on crying out to God – and not get proud.
Let’s read Paul’s own words about this messenger of Satan, a demon, who was sent to trouble Paul and keep him humble. We find it in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
“So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
This demon indeed caused Paul many problems: “rioting” Acts 19:40; “shipwrecked” Acts 27; “stoned almost to death” Acts 14; and “sickness” Galatians 4; then the list of other “thorns in the flesh” we read about in 2 Corinthians 11 – whipped, beaten with rods, etc.
I remember reading about a missionary in prison and he said the guards starting to circle around him like wolves ready to devour him; and myself once at Kipling and Dixon a crowd of about 10 to 15 Somali young men started circling around us hitting us from behind to knock out the tracts in our hands. Fortunately one of their leaders calmed them down saying: “Abdi, Jamal, you guys are on parole – do you want to get caught and go to jail – leave these guys alone.” Then we were told to leave.
Not a walk across a field.
Jesus never promised us an easy life down here on earth if we followed Him. In fact the Bible says:
“Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” – 2 Timothy 3:12
So we make a choice. We accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and then decide if we want to follow Him as our Lord and face the persecution that comes from preaching the word and keeping the testimony of Jesus.
Revelation 14 says:
“Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.”
So don’t give up my dear Somali brother or sister in Christ. This could be just the beginning of heavier persecution to come your way. But remember, it’s a package deal when you accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. There is salvation in heaven but there is also suffering on the cross before you get there.
Just like the thief who had to be nailed on a cross beside Jesus to suffer for his sins and be saved by Jesus we too must suffer and pick up our cross and be ready to suffer and be persecuted for the name of Jesus Christ down here on earth before we enter our eternal home in heaven.