I was lined up at running back and the play that was called had a strong chance of coming to me. I was to run a bubble screen, and I often found myself open as a result of that route.
Sure enough, my high school six-man quarterback threw me a pass. It was slightly behind me, and I reached back and caught it with one hand. My 2 seconds of glory were quickly ended, as the middle linebacker lit me up. I was hit so hard that my chinstrap broke. You read that right. It broke. It hurt. The equipment manager told me that I would have to wait some time to get back in. I told him I was more than happy with that.
The rest of the season, the fear I had revolving around football in general was that much more pronounced. I didn’t want to play and I was thankful I wasn’t good enough to. I would turn away from the coach when he scanned the sideline to find replacements for the starters so they could get a breather.
The pain of that one play prevented me from doing anything that would put me back into that position.
My love for football wasn’t great enough for me to willingly face physical pain again.
Paul faced more than a broken chinstrap on account of Christ when he was in Philippi.
Instead, he and his fellow gospel workers were seized by a rioting crowd, stripped of their clothes, beaten, and imprisoned. You can read all about it in Acts 16. After they leave Philippi, they make it to Thessalonica and preach the gospel there.
For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our visit with you was not without result. On the contrary, after we had previously suffered and were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition. – 1 Thessalonians 2:1-2
Paul and his fellow missionaries didn’t let the horrifying treatment they endured in Philippi prevent them to preach the gospel again.
Their love for Jesus was great enough for them to put themselves in potentially the same position again. Their love for Jesus was great enough for them to willingly face more horrifying persecution.
They would do it all again for their Lord and Savior.
What about you?
What about me?
I wouldn’t allow myself to step back onto a football field without being forced to.
There’s few things I would face physical pain and persecution over. That list might actually be empty on some days.
Then I read a passage like this.
My prayer is that I would count Jesus as worth it.
I don’t live in a context or culture where being stripped naked, beaten, and imprisoned is something I’ll face for Christ.
It’s a lot less violent.
But it’s still hard some days to put Jesus first.
But he’s worth it.
He’s worth it when we’re ostracized for our faith.
He’s worth it when we’re vilified or accused.
He’s worth it when we’re mocked and seen as either naive idiots or foolish.
He’s worth it.
Paul and company were willing to go through the ringer again and again.
All for the glory of their King.
May the same be said of us.
In His Name,
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