Though it is probably for all the wrong reasons and shows just how far I have to go in my faith, I think if I had to choose one Scripture as my very favorite it would Galatians 6:17 . There the Apostle Paul writes, From now on, let no one make trouble for me; for I carry the marks of Jesus branded on my body.
While I have not suffered for the Gospel anywhere near the extent Paul did, and certainly have never physically suffered for it in such a way that my body has been scarred by it, I have suffered for the Gospel none the less. If you are serious and faithful in following Jesus, I expect you have suffered too. These are suffering times.
Because I have suffered for the Gospel, I think I know exactly how Paul is feeling when he makes this statement. We work so hard for so long to do what is right, and what do we get for it? There is reward, yes, but there is also heart ache, pain, and vast reservoirs of grief. Not exactly what most preachers will you tell you awaits if you decide to follow Jesus, but there it is.
And so I want to say with self righteous anger, “Let no one make trouble for me!” I’ve had more than enough trouble. Just leave me alone. (Never mind the fact that I have done more than my share in making needless trouble for others.)
But I don’t think I’ve yet earned the right to say that. In fact, I think maybe we never do. It is interesting how the Message translates verse 17—it gives it a whole different sense:
Quite frankly, I don't want to be bothered anymore by these disputes. I have far more important things to do—the serious living of this faith…
That I think I can say. Maybe you can too. Maybe it is exactly what needs to be said in these suffering times as we speak to similarly suffering people.
And just in case we miss the spirit of what Paul is saying, that he is not being angry or bitter or resentful, we would do well to read the last line as well: May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, yes!
Maybe that is the most important thing to be said and share and lived of all.