Surely Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me

Psalm 23:6 – Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…

Today’s article is inspired by chapter 11 of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller.

Two thoughts about “goodness and mercy” following us all the days of our life.

From one perspective, we can think of how God’s goodness and mercy as our Good Shepherd will always be with us. His vision, tender care and protection will always be with us. He is our “rear guard” (Isaiah 52:21; 58:8). He goes before us and follows us from behind. We are completely encircled by God’s goodness and mercy as His sheep.

Another perspective is that the trail God’s sheep leave behind is goodness and mercy. Under the management of a bad shepherd, a flock of sheep will completely destroy a pasture and leave it bare, full of parasites, and erosion will wash ruts left by sheep into a gulley. But under the disciplined and loving care of a good shepherd, the pasture is left in good shape, maybe even better than before.

Let’s take a moment today to thank God for being such a wonderful Shepherd, and for the fact that His goodness and mercy always follow us!

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

Below is a video of a shepherd calling his sheep. It is powerful and illustrates what Jesus said in John 10. When the shepherd calls, the sheep come because they know his voice.

I heard once that the true test of leadership is to look around and see if anyone is following you.  That’s a pretty good test. Think about Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He says in John 10 that the shepherd knows the sheep, and that the sheep know the shepherd. When He calls, they come running. They know his voice.  To the sheep, the Shepherd’s voice means that they are running to safety and a rewarding environment. It is safe to run to the Shepherd.

John 10:3,8,14,16,27
To him (the shepherd of the sheep) the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them…I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Think about why so many flocked to Jesus during his ministry? Look at Luke 15 and meditate on it. There were many religious leaders in Jesus’ day, but the people weren’t flocking to them. Why? Those leaders were bullies, arrogant, know-it-alls who placed heavy burdens on the people. They were hypocritical, self-indulgent and constantly sat in condescending judgment upon the people. The people knew it wasn’t safe to run to them. But they saw safety, compassion and acceptance in the heart of Jesus. When He called, they came.

Consider your own leadership as a man. Are people running to you or from you? Are you a bully or a loving shepherd? It’s worth your consideration – Do the sheep know your voice? Do they come running when you call?

 

The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

Good Deed

Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you—being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ— 10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. 14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary. (Philemon 8-14; NKJV)

In considering this text, do you see the awesome and powerful demonstration of leadership by Paul and made possible by the tremendous followership of Philemon?

We have established this is a tough ask Paul is making of Philemon in receiving Onesimus…a slave of Philemon who has run away and is not profitable.  With that in mind, consider the fact that Paul does not command Philemon and he never uses the words “forgive” or “reconcile”.  What Paul does is “appeal” to Philemon’s character to “receive” Onesimus as a brother in Christ.  Paul knows that Philemon understands this is only possible if he forgives and they are reconciled.  Paul is encouraging Philemon to put his faith and love into action and to further refresh the hearts of the saints.

Why didn’t Paul command him?  I cannot say for certain but I understand the power and joy in others doing the right thing because they choose to rather than because they are told or command to.  I understand the tremendous catalyst of choice.  I have responsibility of leadership in my life whether it is with a colleague, an employee, a child, a spouse, a brother/sister…God has given me specific commands and responsibilities to lead.  Do you see that?  God has given me a work to do (responsibility) and I am accountable to the outcomes of that leadership work…and though the authority is implied…the focus is on the responsibility and the expectation is that I fulfill that responsibility as a Christian who emulates Christ Who is love!  Love in the case of Christ is “choice”!  The catalyst!

Leadership is a result of a cultivated relationship of trust, understanding, and mutual respect which provides the foundation for leading or influencing others towards a common purpose and work.  Paul cultivated this relationship with Philemon.  Philemon demonstrated his heart through his fruit.  Paul trusted the faith and love of Philemon and Philemon trusted Paul’s leadership.

This is what is so awesome in this scenario.  No barking orders.  No insecurity.  No resentment.  All of these are opportunities for Satan to place a wedge and start working a relationship apart.  The more people involved, the more opportunity and this is why leadership is so very important!  Choosing the assume the best of another provides the opportunity for them to exceed your expectations and reduces the opportunity for Satan to divide.

Paul’s letter is all about the need to forgive and how to go about forgiveness.  Paul’s approach is all about trust in Philemon’s character because of Philemon’s actions and fruit.  This is a pattern worth evaluating in our own lives.  If a brother or sister has demonstrated love and faith then we can assume the best of them and that they will demonstrate love and faith now and in the future.  This should provide us with a confidence in each other and relieve the need for “orders” or “commands” but rather open opportunity for encouragement, increased opportunity to serve, and growth.

Forgiveness and reconciliation is a hard work that has to be voluntary for everyone.  We can lead others through forgiveness and reconciliation if we first trust and provide opportunity for reconciliation rather than command that we forgive.  Jesus chose us.  Lets choose each other!

Count The Cost

 “A pair of dead birds greet visitors at the chained front door of what would have been the YMCA on Dishman Road in Beaumont, Texas. The birds likely flew in an opening in the rear of the 22,000 square foot unfinished building ripped open by vandals or transients looking for a place to get out of this season’s unusually cold winter. The owner, Wells Fargo, is looking for a way out of the property it acquired through foreclosure after the YMCA declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy and construction halted in February 2010. For about $2 million dollars you could own this facility.”

I read this in a newspaper about five years ago while living in Beaumont, Texas. It made me think about the words of Jesus in Luke 14:25-33. Jesus talked about discipleship. Those who follow Him must count the cost. Jesus demands total allegiance. While many might initially begin to follow Him, they fail to finish because they didn’t count the cost.

Jesus’ words in this text are some of the most challenging He taught. There is no middle ground when it comes to following Him. Being a disciple of Jesus is a life-long endeavor. There is no halftime, vacation, or sabbatical. How do you think the great crowds felt when they learned this?

How do we feel when we hear these words from Jesus?  Let’s consider a few thoughts from what Jesus said.

What is the cost? The cost of following Jesus is everything!  Despite the large crowds that were following Him, Jesus didn’t attempt to soften His words. His words were demanding, stringent, and probably shocking. To be a disciple of Jesus you must hate everyone including yourself, Luke 14:26. Jesus must be first. Jesus must come first before anyone else.  Many are surprised when they read the word “hate.” Certainly, we are to love all men. It’s the idea of “loving less.” We must love Jesus more than anyone else, including ourselves. Half-hearted discipleship will not work. An “every once in a while” kind of discipleship will not work. Read Revelation 3:15-17 as an example.

Can We Do It? Is it possible for us to put Jesus first above everyone and everything? The answer is YES. It is. Otherwise, Jesus would not have told us to do it. But it will require a lot of work. While our reward will be great, it will come with a price. But anything worthwhile comes with a price. The price of redeeming us required sacrifice on the part of Jesus, Ephesians 1:7. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised that the same will be true for us. We can do what Jesus says. We will have to trust Him at all times. We will have to remember the big picture: eternity with Him.

Will We Do It? We are to count the cost. We don’t want to be like the man who began to build but then never finished. When I’m studying with people and teaching them about Jesus, this is one of the passages I share with them. I want them to see what Jesus says about discipleship. It really is a serious matter and one really needs to consider what Jesus says about it. As Christians, let’s be sure that we finish. As Paul said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.”

I myself am going

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD. Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'”
(Zechariah 8:20-23)

We all need someone to follow. God says we are sheep. Really, whether or not we like it and accept it, we are following someone. The passage above from Zechariah shows us that when someone is walking confidently and humbly toward God, that there will be others who will grab on to your robe and want to go with you. People will follow someone, sadly even if that leader is going in the absolute wrong direction (Matthew 15:14). Are you and I leading others to the house of God in Jerusalem, meaning are we leading others to Christ, to truth, and to His family?

God wants us, as His men, to walk purposefully, confidently, passionately and humbly toward Him and toward His house. When we do that, others will follow. Not everyone will follow, in fact, Jesus tells us that most won’t. But we need to have a Joshua-like attitude that says, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). We are going to God. We are going to God’s house. Do you want to come with us? That’s the mindset God’s men must have.

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
(Revelation 22:17)

Growing Up to be a Shepherd

This week I would like to offer some thoughts regarding God’s design for and the importance of shepherds within a local church.  Further, I would like to discuss the importance of understanding what we and our young men should be doing now to grow in their faith and purpose to grow so that they will be qualified when called for this “good work”.

In 1 Timothy3 and Titus 1, we can read about the qualifications for shepherds and for deacons.  These qualifications, if examined, represent a man who has spent his life (or a good portion of it) living for Jesus and serving Him faithfully.  This kind of living is what results in meeting the qualifications.  It would be a mistake to think that a shepherd is “made” and/or that we can wait to get started on “growing up” to be a shepherd.  As men, we cannot think something like “if I were made to be a shepherd, THEN I would help lead the flock of God”.  This is flawed thinking.  If we wait to concern ourselves with being elders later in life and leave it to when we get old enough, it will be too late and we will not meet the qualifications.

Think about it this way.  If you want to be an engineer, don’t you have to take schooling to be an engineer?  Consider a young man who graduates high school and then gets a job working for a sales company.  He quickly learns the ins and outs, works hard, is ethical, delivers everything that he says he will and generally is a great success in the job he is doing.  But after a couple years, he decides he wants to be an engineer.  He thinks of himself as a hard worker, quick learner, good performer, took math in high school, is good with building things, and surely being an engineer is just like the sales job he had…just work hard and succeed.  He just needs to get a job, learn some stuff and he will be fine.  It worked before anyways.  So he applies for some engineering jobs but doesn’t get any calls back.  No one wants to interview him.  He is frustrated and so he calls one of the companies.  He asks why he isn’t getting an opportunity.  What he learns is a shock.  The recruiter politely points out that he has no training or experience or certification or degree in engineering therefore he is not qualified and cannot be an engineer.  The recruiter encourages the young man to go back, go to school, get his degree, get qualified and then reapply.  Well, thankfully, he is a young man and there is time to get back on track but he can only become a qualified engineering candidate if does the schooling, gains experience, and then try his hand at engineering.

It is the same with being a shepherd and it is that way because of the wisdom of God in His design.  We will talk more about this as we go through the week but the bottom line is this…a local church needs leadership, shepherds provide that leadership, and being qualified is a process over time that needs to start now.

The need for and importance of leadership is seen as Paul talks to the shepherds at Ephesus (Acts 20:28–32).  There are real spiritual dangers to a local church from outside the flock and even from within.  That is why Paul appointed shepherds at all the churches he established or aided during his missionary journeys (Acts 14:21-28).

Further, shepherds are a gift from God and like the other gifts, He gives them for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16).  So, this is not just a “man discussion” but a discussion that involves the flock and I hope these articles will help facilitate that discussion.

We have a lot to cover this week but for now, consider the above verses, look ahead and read Ezekiel 34 (what a shepherd shouldn’t be) and come back tomorrow as we continue to look at what we should be doing to prepare ourselves and others for this “good work”.

Me First

I sometimes can get caught in the trap of looking at the world or other people in my life and thinking “there is so much going on that is wrong that there is no hope” or “this person is so wrong that there is no way I can have anything to do with them” or “it’s their fault” or “why bother, it doesn’t make a difference anyways”.  Notice I said I fall into a trap here because that is exactly what it is.  It is a trap or snare set by the devil to keep me from fulfilling the roles and responsibilities God has given me or to shine the Light that He has placed in my heart.  It is a trap and if we fall into looking outside of ourselves for positive change, or to fix others, or locate the source of the problems in our lives as we “lead” or “shepherd”; then we will be wrong, disappointed, and ineffective.

If positive change is going to happen in my relationships…my workplace…my home…my church…that change has to happen in my life.  It is easy to see the flaws, faults, and failures of others but God calls me to see mine first.  The word of God is likened to a mirror in James 1:23-25.  As I look into the Word, I see myself as I truly am…I see my true self in God’s mirror.

The Word of God exposes me and I am naked and open before Him (Hebrews 4:12-13).  Along with Peter I can say “I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8) and the heart and the words of the Prodigal Son will be my own “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight” (Luke 15:18).

The Word shows me my flaws, faults, and failures but it also shows the forgiveness available in Christ Jesus!  My Savior offers me refreshing spiritually through His blood.  Through God’s Word I see a different way…His way…and I repent or change my mind and how I live and in that, God changes my heart:  “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

I am then in a position to lead if I am quick to deal with my own sins before I seek to correct another (Matthew 7:1-5).  But if I think myself to be something, when I am nothing, I deceive myself (Galatians 6:3).   If I want to be in a position to influence another and before I ever think about it, I must honestly examine myself (Galatians 6:4).

Think about Peter in John 21.  Jesus is restoring him, giving him purpose and though Peter is hearing Jesus…he is in part thinking about John.  Jesus tells him to forget about John for now…focus on Me and what I have for you to do and I will take care of your brother.  Like Peter, we must respond to Jesus call to “follow Me”.  That is our part.  That is our job.

In that, I must be honest about what I see (James 1:24).  I must trust in GOD to mold me and make me into the image of Christ (Jeremiah 18:4; Romans 8:29).  I then can be the change that will result in the glorification of GOD, the edification of the body, and the growth of the family of GOD.

With this mindset, together, we can “excel still more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1), if individually we proclaim, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).  Each of us committed to being the change that we want to see in the world and we will then be in a position to lead and make a difference…and let God work from the inside out.

The Barnabas Touch: How to Be An Encourager

Gentlemen, we have considered this week the importance of being a humble servant as we follow the example given to us by Jesus (John 13:1-17).  I came across an article (written by Jason Moore) I was provided many years back and in reading it I wanted to share it with you today as we wrap up our week.  I hope you find it encouraging and invite you to take today and the weekend to consider the importance of our encouragement to our Brethren and the impact this style of living will have on those we encounter in the world.  Have a blessed day!

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Barnabas was conspicuous for his encouragement of others. An examination of his life teaches us the skills of an encourager, the job of every believer. The apostle commands, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).  Barnabas illustrates the commandment:

  1. Get off your island. Barnabas was born on the isle of Cyprus, but left Cyprus for Jerusalem (4:36), Jerusalem for Antioch, the third largest city in Roman world (11:22), and Antioch for the world (13:2). Encouragers are not just naturally gregarious people—that’s a myth. The essential qualification is unselfishness. Encouragers leave their comfort zone to go help. It’s the best cure for self-pity and any “self”-ish tendency.
  2. Build a bridge. Barnabas believed in men like Saul and John Mark even when others didn’t (9:26-27; 15:37-39). He risked his own reputation in reaching out to them. Bridge building is hard work and there is always the risk of falling. But encouragers run the risk of seeking, finding and enfolding folks whom others have isolated or who have isolated themselves.
  3. Spread good gossip. Barnabas told Saul’s story to the apostles (9:27), Antioch’s story to Saul (11:25-26), and the Gentiles’ story to an assembly in Jerusalem (15:12). A gossip likes to tell the bad he knows about others while an encourager likes to tell the good. An encourager can’t keep the story of others’ growth or progress to himself. He broadens their influence by telling something good on them.
  4. Lead the line to lend a hand. Barnabas led the file to relieve needy saints on at least two occasions (4:36-37; 11:30). It’s not that the encourager is always the first on the scene when a need arises, but he is always out of breath when he gets there. The promptness of an encourager says that his service is a privilege and not a burden.
  5. Acknowledge an effort. The word of God commends Barnabas as a “good man” because of his encouragement of the church in Antioch (11:23). The Holy Spirit acknowledges him for his acknowledgment of the efforts of others. At least three steps are involved in mastering this skill.
    1. Be watchful. An encourager is observant of the progress of others, however slight.
    2. Be thoughtful. He finds new ways to say, “Good job” and “I appreciate you.”
    3. Be impartial. The encourager never reserves his encouragement for just his circle.
  6. Go out of your way to involve another. Barnabas went looking for Saul in Tarsus in order to bring him to Antioch (11:25-26). Seeking someone’s partnership in a project says, “I need you,” or, “I believe in you.” Both of those are encouraging sentiments. The essential element in this skill is the nonverbal message sent by going out of one’s way to solicit another’s help or participation.
  7. Keep your commitments. Barnabas built a reputation for dependability (11:22, 30) and for fulfilling his mission (12:25). He always got the job done and often exceeded expectations. Over-commitment and empty promises encourage no one; quite the opposite. They cool enthusiasm. Encouragers honor their commitments in a timely, unimpeachable fashion.
  8. Don’t forget your family. John Mark was Barnabas’ kinsman (15:39; Col. 4:10). That surely was not the only reason for his peculiar encouragement of him, but it also wasn’t a reason to ignore him. Family members frequently air their complaints and criticisms, but neglect the custom of encouragement. Happy is the home where mutual encouragement is a habit. Miserable is any abode in its absence.
  9. Be a sympathetic ally of the leadership. The apostles gave Barnabas his nickname (4:36). He was their A Peter and Paul need encouragement as much as a John Mark. And a Barnabas needs it too. Leadership is far more resilient and confident when others stand with them. Leaders are also far more willing to hear the criticism of the encourager than the whine of the complainer.
  10. Always leave people better than you found them. The apostles, the poor saints in Jerusalem, Saul of Tarsus, John Mark, the church in Antioch and many churches abroad were bettered by the Barnabas’ touch. Midas was the fabled king of Phrygia to whom Dionysius gave the power of turning all that he touched to gold. Encouragers have a golden touch too. But they invest themselves in people, not trinkets. And they enrich others and not themselves.

Do Not Go to Glean in Another Field

Then Boaz said to Ruth, “You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn” (Ruth 2:8-9).

Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also said to me, ‘You shall stay close by my young men until they have finished all my harvest.’ ” And Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It is good, my daughter, that you go out with his young women, and that people do not meet you in any other field.” So she stayed close by the young women of Boaz, to glean until the end of barley harvest and wheat harvest; and she dwelt with her mother-in-law (Ruth 2:21-23).

The book of Ruth is about redemption. To the Jews, it told the history of King David’s great grandmother, and to the Christian it tells us where Jesus came from (Matthew 1). Ruth and Naomi were “redeemed” by Boaz. He was their savior or redeemer in a sense. Because of Boaz, the family line of Naomi’s deceased husband and sons would go on through the child of Boaz and Ruth. Moses’ law was designed by God to help widows in situations like this so that their family line, inheritance and properties would not be lost.

Just like Boaz was Ruth and Naomi’s redeemer, Jesus is our redeemer. He paid the price with His own blood when we were powerless and enslaved to sin.

What I want to focus on this morning in connection to this redemption is the advice that Ruth received from both Boaz and Naomi. “Do not go to glean in another field.” Make sure that “people do not meet you in any other field.” If you want Boaz’ redemption, then stay on Boaz’ property!

Take that advice and apply it to our relationship with Jesus. Stay in Jesus’ field! Do not go to glean in another’s field. People should not meet us in any other field. If we truly desire and honor the redemption given us through the precious blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18), then we won’t be trying to harvest the devil’s crops.

Jesus is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5; 2 Corinthians 11:2). He instructed us by saying, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money” (Matthew 6:24).

Paul follows that concept up with the idea of us eating at two different tables.

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (1 Corinthians 10:21-22).

The exhortation for us today is to stay in Jesus’ field and live in full gratitude of His redemption. Let’s harvest on His land today. Our friends should not meet us on another field. No more planting, cultivating and reaping in the Devil’s field. That means keep our minds pure when we are on the internet and watching TV. Don’t be reaping in the Devil’s field. It means keep ourselves loyal to Christ in our business decisions and associations. Being in Jesus’ field means that we go to Him first for comfort, support and advice.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:7-9).

You Follow Me

Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:18-22).

Here is a discussion that Jesus had with Simon Peter after the resurrection. Jesus taught Peter (at least) two very important lessons about following Him. Twice Jesus told Peter in this discussion, “Follow Me.” Let’s take a moment to see what following Jesus involves.

You follow Me

  • Following Jesus was going to cost Peter his life. This death, according to John, would glorify the Father (see also 2 Peter 1:14). Men, that is the same cost we must pay in order to follow Jesus. And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).
  • Not everyone who follows Jesus will face the same trials. Peter was very concerned about another disciple (John) and how his life would turn out. What was Jesus’ response? “What is that to you? You follow Me?” We can get caught up in how our life is so much different than others, and that other Christians have it so much “easier.” Let’s keep in mind what Jesus said to Peter…“What is that to you? You follow Me?” Also keep in mind that you are probably wrong; that other person doesn’t have it “easier.” He or she has trials and adversity, too, those trials are just in different forms.

So, what about John?

Consider the apostle John, about whom Peter was so concerned. Did John face trials? He was beaten and imprisoned just like Peter was (Acts 4-5). His brother, James, was beheaded by Herod (Acts 12). John was persecuted and exiled to the isle of Patmos for preaching the Word (Revelation 1). Some members of congregations caused John a lot of grief and pain (3 John 9-10). I write these things down to say that everybody faces adversity and persecution for following Christ, it just may be in a different form that what you face. Regardless of what that other disciple faces or does not face in life, our responsibility is to follow Jesus.