Thirty-nine—”Forty stripes save one”

Thirty-nine—”Forty stripes save one”

Being persecuted is not something that the average Christian lines up for. And it is never the way we imagined it would be when we do have our faith in God demeaned. Emotions run high during such confrontations and our brain tries to decide the best option between fight or flight. Christians have used silence as the most practiced preventative tool. Considering some of the thoughts that come to mind as someone reduces your closest held beliefs and practices to the level of stupid fairy tales, saying nothing seems the best option. The apostle Paul did not shun persecution. He matter-of-factly adds “Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes” (2Cor.11:24) to a list of struggles and persecutions that he had gladly endured for Christ. How did he do it? That, of course, is answered only in the ‘why?’ of the matter. When he said, “The Lord is near” (Eph.4:5), he believed it in both senses: The Lord was ever with him, and Jesus’ return was always on his mind as imminent. When his deepest desires are summed up in Philippians 3:10 as, “that I may know Him [Jesus] and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,” we begin to see his worldview. If suffering was good enough for Jesus, it was good enough for him. Jesus overcame the curse of death for the world though suffering and called Paul to spread that Good News. Why did Paul say ‘Yes’ to a life of persecution? Because Jesus said, ‘Yes,’ when it was the only option to secure our salvation. Paul meant it when he said, “I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some” (1Cor.2:22). If it took another 39 lashes to save some more, he by all means was willing to take the beating. We might want to check our ‘WHYs.”

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