They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.Acts 14:21-22 NIV
At the end of Paul and Barnabas’ first missionary trip, they returned to many of the cities they had earlier preached in. And their message to them was one that is quite different than what we might hope for. And at odds with what is sometimes preached today. We want to believe that if we are following Jesus, our lives will be trouble-free. That he will provide for all of our wants and needs. And that he will defend us from any attack. And some would go so far as to teach that God wants us all to be physically prosperous and healthy.
Through Many Hardships
But the message of Paul and Barnabas is at odds with that. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” Rather than life being a bed of roses, it may actually be worse. As followers of Christ, we live in a world that is by and large antagonistic toward him. And Jesus warned us that the world would react to us the same way they react to him (John 15:18-20). Trouble should be expected. In fact, you should be concerned if you do not suffer for Christ (Phil. 1:29, 2 Tim. 3:12). But be encouraged to remain true to the faith. In the end, your reward will be great.