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by A. A. Neale
"Through many tribulations we must enter the
kingdom of God." --Acts 14:22, NASV
Paul got up from being stoned and went right back into Lystra. What did he say to those new converts? "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
The next day he and Barnabas went to Derbe and preached the gospel there. What did he preach to the many disciples? "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
After that, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch to strengthen the disciples and encourage them to continue in the faith. What did they say to them? "Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God."
It would seem to be a bad message to encourage fidelity to God. "We shall suffer and struggle and then there are more trials to come before we may enter God's eternal kingdom!" But it is the very message of the cross. It the word of the Savior, "If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!" (Matthew 10:25).
The struggle for the kingdom must be engaged. To enter the spiritual fray, God places his entire treasure of power and blessing at our disposal. But if not used to pass through tribulations on our way to the kingdom, even these will be lost upon us.
The struggle for the kingdom must be pressed upon every Christian. Only when each one knows he must take up the trials of Jesus will he be able to reach the other side. On our part, there must be no soft soap, no pretending, no hiding to protect. The call to be a follower of Jesus is the call to die daily and suffer in his steps.
The struggle for the kingdom must be evident in us. If others can see our afflictions, they will know the kingdom is real. But if we pretend a false perfection, a fake profession, a sugar-coated Christianity, they will never see in us the glory of the eternal reign of God.
First published in Forthright Magazine
-- A. A. Neale (email@example.com), April 02, 2002