21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,
22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:21-22
We have to decide whether we are going to go with what the Bible says or whether we are going to work with what we want or think.
Notice very carefully Paul’s words here: “… we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Paul did not say “we will through much blessings enter into the kingdom of God”.
But that is the way it has turned out today… God’s people are crossing vasts tracts of ocean and land seeking after only one thing: blessings.
When, I ask, did scripture change “tribulations” to read “blessings”?
I will tell you what: the church has been invaded; and we probably are not aware of it. The church has been invaded by the flesh!
What am I saying? That blessings are of the flesh? By no means.
But when we go seeking after those blessings, that is the flesh.
Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Notice the word “added” there. Blessings – and even our basic material needs – are an addition. They are not the real thing. That is why God can bless one man and not bless another materially: it makes no difference to Him. He knows they are of little consequence.
In Swahili, we call this “bakshishi”. “Bakshishi” is that little extra that the shopkeeper adds on top of the full measure that you paid for in the first instance. “Bakshishi” makes little difference to the full measure that you had gone to purchase.
Google Translate calls “bakshishi” a tip. For an employee, a tip is hardly the salary.
Is “bakshishi” bad? No. But at no time did “bakshishi” become the full measure that we went to buy at the shop.
Since when did blessings become the measure of what we have been called to in God’s Kingdom? But blessings have become the central desire of God’s people today.
And yet, the Apostle Paul declares that the full measure of what has been paid for is – alas! – the very thing many believers are running away from today: tribulations.
“… we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
People are avoiding sufferings like the plague! And yet… Paul himself rejoiced at these tribulations (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Initially, he had sought to rejoice in the blessings; but when he got the revelation of the crucified Christ, he did not seek after the blessings anymore. He says:
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
For what purpose?
“…that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
The church is losing out. It is losing out to “bakshishi”. That is what is happening.
We are losing out on the true glory. We are left holding the “bakshishi”; by chasing after blessings we are left holding onto what amounts to nothing. Where, pray, did we lose the true measure of what Christ called us to?
We must get back to the crossroads…
But Philippians 2:5-11 exhorts us, “5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
[Below: A street in Singida]