The third chapter in John Piper's book, Let the Nations be Glad! The Supremacy of God in Missions, is about the suffering that accompanies the spread of the Gospel. He says, "Some suffering is the calling of every believer but especially of those God calls to bear the gospel to the unreached." He quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise God-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die."
Let me admit I know personally very little about suffering for cause of the Gospel. This causes great concern for me, especially when I study passages like Philippians 1:27-30 and 2 Timothy 3:12. Why don't I suffer? Part of the reason is probably cultural; our country was the first to institute the teachings of Jesus about separation of church and state, and so we still have (for the moment) true religious liberty (Mark 12:13-17) (note: I doubt we'll have this much longer; tolerance will overtake it, persecuting any who are exclusive. Want proof? See what's happened in Canada to those who preach the Bible's position on homosexuality.). But the larger part is probably because I have not been a consistent, fearless witness for Jesus Christ. Although I know the truth of salvation, I have been lazy and apathetic in sharing it. And though there are always exceptions, this seems to be the way of most of the Christians I know are. Why? Piper goes on to say, "Persecution can have harmful effects on the church, but prosperity it seems is even more devastating to the mission God calls us to." Read Matthew 13:1-23. Are we not thorny soil?
Matthew 13:22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
I have long thought that this problem was unique to the modern church here in America, but today I discovered otherwise. As I was studying, I read an article from William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army. It's so accurate, it could have been written yesterday in Washington DC instead of a hundred years ago in England. Read the entire vision, entitled A Vision Of The Lost. May God speak to your heart as He spoke to mine.
God, please forgive me for being thorny soil. May I never be apathetic again.