Double, Double, Toil & Trouble? © Rob Wilkerson
Chapter OneBeginning Points
I have a story to tell. It is one that would make you cry. It would make you wonder howthe bride of Jesus Christ, His church, in some places throughout the world, could exist insuch a spiritually chaotic state and still be called a church. The Corinthian church was just such a place. Subtract the greeting and the closing of Paul to this church and thereader would seriously wonder if those people could be called saints. I pastored such achurch once.But there is grac
e…even in those places. There are saints…even in those conditions.
Though I have a story about such a place and people, I cannot tell it any longer. I didonce, for many years. It all happened to me in 2004 in a small town in the southeast,settled dee
p in the “Bible belt.” The trials there lasted sixteen months for me, longer for
those I left behind, and even longer still into the future for those who have not yet dealt
with it or the ramifications and consequences. That’s why I’m thankful for grace.
Rejoicing For the Right Reason
My sins during this story have been covered by that grace. I told my story many, manytimes. I even hung on to it, inwardly clinging to it, reviewing it often, taking greatdelight in the fact that I and others really were genuinely persecuted for the sake of Christ. Yet typical of the disciples who followed Jesus in His day, I rejoiced in the wrongthing (Luke 10:20). The disciples
Pentecost rejoiced that they had been counted
to suffer for Jesus’ sake (Acts 5:41). And in recent times I’ve discovered a
difference there between what the text actually said, and what I was actually doing.Peter and John rejoiced for the right reason, that their names were written in theLamb
’s Book of Life which counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for Jesus. I, on the
other hand, had spent years rejoicing for the wrong reason, that I was persecuted for
Jesus’ name, and I did so by retelling the story over and over again. My wife will tel
lyou, I basked in the details. So many of the terrible events left such a terrible
impression in me and on me that I can’t help but remember so many dates and times.Yet my suffering was nothing compared to what Jesus’ endured. That’s why Peter and
n rejoiced in the fact that they were essentially partners with Jesus’ in suffering, and
not in the actual suffering which they endured. But grace puts me in good company
with them, because there’s hope for me to mature like they did.