Suffering for God's sake, part of the Kingdom

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    Kimberly Fowler

    I spent time today just reading the first nine verses in Mark 12 and God startled downloading such revelation that it became very heavy on my spirit. Let me try to convey what God showed me…

    Mark 12 Then he began to speak to them in parables. ‘A man planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a pit for the wine press, and built a watch-tower; then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. 2 When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants to collect from them his share of the produce of the vineyard. 3 But they seized him, and beat him, and sent him away empty-handed. 4 And again he sent another slave to them; this one they beat over the head and insulted. 5 Then he sent another, and that one they killed. And so it was with many others; some they beat, and others they killed. 6 He had still one other, a beloved son. Finally he sent him to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” 7 But those tenants said to one another, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.” 8 So they seized him, killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard. 9 What then will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the tenants and give the vineyard to others.
    First of all, let me preface this by saying, that I usually read this with both a spiritual limited understanding and a larger mental human outlook, and based on the human outlook, this is how I read this passage: “an employer keeps sending out his employees to do business, and they get mauled or killed, but the employer keeps sending more employees without going himself to take care of the business and punishing (or killing off) the bad guys!”
    My normal impression is, “why didn’t the owner go right away and judge the tenants before they mauled or killed all of his household and then even his son?” Now I know with limited spiritual understanding that this is referring to God sending prophets, preachers, His messengers, and even His own Son Jesus to the world, and the world keeps rejecting the message of God; but my own mind, when reading the passage, keeps thinking…why not just come and kill the bad guys before they kill all the good guys? (Bruce Willis translation…LOL)
    But today when I was reading it, God was allowing MY outlook to take on HIS outlook, and what I saw was a revelation that showed me an eternal perspective of how God sees us as Christ’s body versus the world; and I was shown a message that I rarely ever hear preached!
    When I started reading it (and my human outlook was questioning why the owner of the vineyard sent another messenger after the first was beaten and then another and another…), God opened my eyes as I was reading and I saw God’s mercy for the wicked tenants when the first slave was beaten and the owner sent another. Then that slave was beaten, and I realized God had extended mercy to the wicked ones again! The parable states that the owner sent MANY to the wicked tenants until finally his one son was left! God showed me in my spirit, that since the parable was about Him, if He would have come to judge the wicked tenants right away and the judgement equaled death, the tenants (the sinners) would have suffered eternal damnation of hell right away! But God in His mercy kept giving the tenants another warning or chance through other servants hoping to spare the tenants’ lives. (Now we know all this from a spiritual standpoint to a degree, but God was opening my eyes to a deeper concept, so bear with me.)
    Each time I read “another servant was sent”, I was realizing the LENGTH God was going to for these tenants to extend MERCY to them from wrath, to the EXTENT that He was willing to sacrifice ALL OF HIS HOUSEHOLD to spare these wicked people from His wrath and to save them from eternal damnation in hell! And even though the wicked people deserved the judgment, God desired His mercy for them rather than His judgment. (Mercy triumphs over judgment… James 2:13) I started to see the LOVE of God and the MERCY of God in this passage, but I also started seeing a glimpse of God that is not talked about in churches; and that is the love and mercy in God’s heart is such for the world (even the “wicked” in the world) that it is to the EXTENT that He is willing to sacrifice His own house for their sake. (This is a hard subject to accept!) This parable is not just of God and the world, but this parable is about Christ’s body, His church, and those of His fellowship! His servants (His “slaves”) represent US! And yet God (who loves His body, His servants) PURPOSELY sent them out in this parable, KNOWING they would be beaten and even killed by these wicked people.
    And God started opening up my understanding of HIS purpose and OUR purpose in the world shown by this parable. God knows His “servants” will go to heaven if they die, so even though it may not be “convenient” for the servant’s sake to be sent out into the world into certain trials and tribulations, God’s heart also knows that if He does not send His house to the wicked to change their hearts, the wicked will be sent into eternal hell separated from God! He COULD judge them right away, but that would mean their death, and judgment would be sealed forever. But God in His great grace has extended mercy to them THROUGH His body of believers, even knowing it could mean that His body SUFFERS GREATLY on account of His mercy to the world. We preach a God who does not want His body to suffer but we preach it to an extent that it alleviates even suffering that is endured for the sake of the cross. We do not understand the full purpose of the cross and our sharing of the sufferings of Christ! It was NOT just His own Son that suffered in this passage, but ALL of His servants! God was opening my eyes to this through this passage. Our message of the cross that we now preach is basically just a “feel good” message to Christ’s body at large. We preach prosperity and God’s blessings through the cross and that He basically wants to pamper us almost! (And prosperity and blessing is a benefit of the righteous; but that was also a biblical covenant even to the righteous in the Old Testament without them even knowing about the cross of Christ.) But we have forgotten the cross of Christ for the world! God was showing me through this passage, that if we are willing servants unto Him, He will not always spare us from trials and tribulations, if through them, it means that another person could have the chance of heaven instead of being eternally separate from God. Now this may not be for everybody because God has given us free will, but it was like God was giving me a choice to “choose the cross” for Him, to “submit to the cross” in my own life, that if going through horrible situations could gain souls, was I willing to “endure the cross”? It is hard to imagine that God allows us to go through horrible situations “on purpose” and with His “allowance” that may not be of our own making, but to further His Kingdom purpose for us or for others: that is a message that is rarely ever preached. (We sometimes think if something horrible happens to us, that it must be due to some fault or failure of ours that we had to go through that trial, or that we just did not use enough warfare or proper warfare in the spirit to get out of that trial. We also preach that God gets no glory if we suffer, but I believe we will get glory in heaven from some of the things that God “allowed” us to suffer for His kingdom!) And when God opened my eyes to things through this passage, He showed me that we truly do not think as He thinks or see things in His Kingdom from His perspective into eternity. I do not understand everything about “sharing the sufferings of Christ” and “taking up the cross”, but God just opened up my eyes in this passage and I felt I had come to a crossroad where I could “choose” to take on the cross for the sake of the gospel. This may seem a harsh view of the cross that God would allow suffering of His household for the purpose of the Kingdom, but I believe it is what God showed me today. “For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only Son.” Yes, Christ died for us that we may be saved, and ONLY Christ could take the sins of the world upon Himself to redeem the world back to God because He was the only perfect lamb. But we now also are sons of the living God, not just servants, and if God needs us for a kingdom purpose that is orchestrated by His divine will for the sake of someone who would otherwise go to hell, God knows that our suffering for the gospel’s sake is just a brief moment of time based on eternity; yet that person who we might reconcile back to God would be spared suffering through eternity!
    Isaiah 55:8-9 New International Version (NIV)
    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
    declares the Lord.
    “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways

    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    Suffering as Christians
    12Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial that has come upon you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed at the revelation of His glory.
    1 Peter 4:12-13

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