“For I am ready not only to be bound but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 21:13)
There seems to be this unspoken, yet popular belief that if something is too difficult or even dangerous, it cannot be God’s will for our lives. But according to today’s passage, Paul would cringe at this, as he practiced a faith that followed Jesus at any cost. But sadly today, many Christians practice a faith that follows a comfortable life as much as possible.
The Holy Spirit warned Paul through several believers about the dangers that would take place when going to Jerusalem. But these well-meaning Christians actually misinterpreted the Spirit’s prophesy, and so they tried to prevent Paul from going. And here’s the thing, just because the Spirit was warning Paul about the dangers, it doesn’t mean the Spirit was telling him not to go. Paul was being warned of the suffering, so he would be ready for it, and not turn his back on Jesus’ will for his life. In verse 13, Paul told these believers that they were looking at his situation all backwards. The issue was not about him being arrested or murdered in Jerusalem, but rather about him obeying the Lord Jesus’ call to use him in Jerusalem. And as a result in the following chapters, we see the positive impacts that Paul’s obedience had on many.
The Holy Spirit informs us through the inspired Scriptures of the same kind of cost-making obedience that we’re called to as well. Jesus himself told us, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it” (Lk. 9:23-24).
So what’s something difficult that the Lord Jesus might be calling you to do? Maybe it’s taking serious steps in fighting that specific sin. Maybe it’s stepping outside your comfort zone to obey God in something you’ve been intimidated by. As you fellowship with Jesus in his suffering, remember what he has promised, “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12).