“I wish you would wear a suit.”
I don’t wear suits on Sundays. I wear nice jeans, dress shoes, and a button-down shirt. But the person telling me this with a smirk meant every word of it. I didn’t look “pastorly enough” for their tastes and they wished I’d wear a suit.
Debating pastoral attire is a conversation for a different time and most of it is cultural, but the stream of complaints anyone in Christian leadership roles hears can be exhausting.
Somewhere along the way, we Christians have gotten convinced the entire Kingdom of God is about us, our preferences, likes, and happiness.
Apparently, the early Church didn’t get that memo.
The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Timothy 2:10
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect,2 Timothy 2:10
that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
New International Version
The Apostle Paul had been through a lot. Even as he’s penning this letter to Timothy, he’s in prison because of the Gospel of Jesus and he’s anticipating his death.
Why would this amount of suffering be worth it?
What prompts a man of reasonable intelligence and good sense to trade comfort?
Because the Apostle Paul knew his purpose. His suffering was used by the Lord to take the message of salvation in Jesus to those who would “obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus”.
He endures the suffering—like an athlete running a marathon or a soldier in an offensive—“for the sake of the elect”. He applies the language of the Old Testament to New Testament disciples of Jesus.
The Apostle wasn’t saying his suffering somehow was the method of their salvation. Instead, he’s reminding Timothy of the calling Paul has on his life. His purpose, mission, objective, driving force, and determination was taking the life-transforming message of Jesus to those who would hear and accept the message.
His suffering was part of the sovereign plan of God to bring the salvation of men, women, boys, and girls. The same Apostle Paul reflected years earlier: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Romans 10:14.
He was willing to endure beatings, financial loss, imprisonment, and (eventually) death just to share the Gospel with people who may or may not accept it.
What are we complaining about again?
We have the privilege of serving as ambassadors of King Jesus. We get to bring His truth against the lies the enemy has filled people’s minds with. We are blessed by being “Jesus in the flesh” to people.
For the sake of those who will accept the message, consider how we can inconvenience ourselves to reach them. Think about what you could give up in order to rescue someone from Hell. What would that be worth to you? What’s it worth to me?
Will some people not get it? Yes.
Will some church folk not get it? Yes.
Will some church folk get it? Yes.
Is it all worth it? Absolutely.
If we’re suffering and it brings the message of salvation to others, then we’re more blessed by the Lord than we can imagine. We get to help save lives by our inconvenience and—dare I say—suffering.