Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).
For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have (Philippians 1:29 NIV).
For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:16-17 NLT).
This is pretty serious stuff. Indeed, you may think this is way too extreme. A couple of things.
What did Jesus day about being a follower?
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27 ESV).
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Luke 18:22 NIV).
And don’t think Paul was perfect:
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out (Romans 7:18-ESV).
But this verse quickly follows:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1 ESV).
Are any of these even possible for us? Yes, because love makes it possible:
[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. Either way, Christ’s love controls us (2 Corinthians 5:13-14a).
So let your love shine! The world needs to see it and experience it.