2 Corinthians 4:7 (The apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth) But we have this treasure (the gospel of Jesus) in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
By the time Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth he was in poor physical condition. He and his coworkers in the gospel had suffered greatly as described in v.8-9, but their apostolic mission continued to bear fruit.
This passage reminds me of an important truth for us Christians. The gospel of Jesus does not include an expectation that we will be spared from physical harm in this life. To the contrary, the more deeply we live into our gospel mission the more likely we are to suffer for our faith. If that sounds strange to you consider the fates of the key persons of the New Testament: Jesus, Paul, Peter, James, Philip, and so on. All the key leaders of the early church, faithful and effective in their ministries, died violent deaths.
Our passage for today reminds me that living as a disciple of Jesus is not “safe”. It is blessed, rewarding, fruitful, but not safe. Lord Jesus, give us courage to live as your disciples, especially when there is risk involved in serving you. Amen.