Would you like to know what Christ expects of you in 2009?
That is the subject of today’s verses from the book of Revelation. In them, we see two basic expectations Christ has of his followers who are faithful to him. First, they will be willing to suffer. And second, they will hold fast to the Truth. The two are not unrelated.
To embrace that Truth is to embrace suffering. Because to embrace Truth is not just to believe it, it is also to live it. It is not just to see what should be done, it is to do it. It is not just to see what needs to be sacrificed, it is to sacrifice it. It is not just to see what must be changed—in ourselves most of all—it is to change it.
As we head into 2009, it is worth asking where God is calling us to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. Perhaps we are called to suffer financially, as the Truth leads us to see what really matters and give with a generosity we once would never even have thought possible (and certainly would not have thought desirable!). Perhaps we are called to suffer physically, as the Truth of our identity as servants calls us to help others in ways that are uncomfortable for us, require hard work, or entail giving up time that we would rather have spent on our selves. Perhaps we are called to suffer mentally as the Truth calls us to see the world in new ways, to think in new ways, to trust in new ways. Perhaps we are called to suffer relationally as the Truth calls us live honestly in love, learning to forgive, to be vulnerable, to forsake familiar patterns of behavior.
Wherever it is, you can be sure if we are not suffering somewhere for the sake of the Gospel, we have not sufficiently beheld or grasped the Truth it so dangerously and boldly proclaims.