But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come… (Luke 20:35)
My greatest goal in life is to be considered worthy to take part with Jesus in the age to come. What does it take to be considered worthy? There are several scriptures which guide us along the way.
First we have Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:38: Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. The key element in this passage is in reference to us staying faithful while undergoing
hardship, including persecution. That was what Paul was referring to in 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5: Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God….
In another passage Paul wrote: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you…For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him… (Philippians 1:27-29)
The phrase “granted to you,” was not a throwaway expression. Suffering for Jesus was indeed a privilege, because when that happened, they were filled with comfort from the Holy Spirit, who filled them with His supernatural power to stay victorious no matter how badly they were tortured (whipped, in this case). The presence of God in their hearts and souls was far more prevalent to their consciousness than was the pain of their bodies. That is why, The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. (Acts 5:41)
That passage from the book of Acts always makes me think of the pastor I met in Bangladesh. He pulled up his pant leg to show me the scars where he had been beaten with metal rods, his tormenters demanding that he renounce Jesus. The harder they beat him, the more God strengthened him. When I met him, he was overflowing with joy from the Holy Spirit as he relived the experience with me.
The other application of this concept taking up our cross and following Him is when we stay obedient to God when facing temptation, as modeled for us by Jesus Himself in Matthew chapter four. Satan spent forty days tempting Jesus in all the ways we are tempted, but He never succumbed. He was… tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Most of us think that when we face temptation, it’s worse for us than it was for all Christians before us. That in itself is a lie of Satan. The Bible tells us, No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
The reward for staying obedient and faithful under fire is beyond our comprehension. However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. (Revelation 2:17)
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:26-27)
© 2018 Darvis McCoy
About the Picture: Taken by Darvis on his trip to Bangladesh. See Chapter 12 "A Shift in Focus." For more pictures from this trip click here.
Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™