Jesus Christ was the toughest man who's ever lived. He was a tough leader. He had a tough assignment. He chose tough disciples. He spoke tough things. He was tough on those who considered themselves 'religious'. And judging by the thousands that rejected and abandoned Him in His final months before He returned to Heaven, He was a tough guy to listen to and follow. But if you only have a Chuck Norris' definition of "tough" (where, 'tough'='rough') you are never going to understand the toughness which Jesus modelled and expects of His followers. What's more, we live in a period of phenomenal ease and comfort, where being tough is simply not necessary. This makes toughness seem foreign - and dare I say it, "unChristian"! Perhaps it's time to re-examine Christ and His call to follow and discover why one of the most needs for today's Church is to toughen up!
The toughness that Christ exhibited was an expression of deep love. Christ's toughness is not like the world's toughness. In the world, the tough guy is the bad guy who's mean. But Christ's toughness is courageous endurance in the face of adversity and opposition. To be 'tough' in the worldly sense almost implies that you are rude and inconsiderate. But tough in Christ's sense is: the courage to be kind, gentle and considerate while standing your ground.if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
A DIFFERENT KIND OF TOUGH
The first step in toughening up is to make sure you understand who your audience is. If your audience is the world, you'll always be soft and weak. If your audience is God, you'll soon toughen up.¶ Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
First Corinthian 16:13
A TOUGH AUDIENCE
The Father was Christ's audience. This is why Jesus could say what He did and do what He did - because even though it was offensive to human ears and eyes, it was not their approval Christ sought. If you live to please people, or win people's praise, you need to toughen up! If the opinions of others determines whether you obey God or not, you are soft and weak. This might sound harsh, but consider the words of Christ in this light and you'll soon realise why it was that so many were offended by Him and then offended by His servants.not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart,
Eph. 6:6¶ Obviously, I'm not trying to be a people pleaser! No, I am trying to please God. If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ's servant.
You have to be tough not to go along with the crowd. If you know that you're not as tough as you should be, ask the Father for help. Pray that God will change your heart from being a people-pleaser to being a God-pleaser.¶ "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Ease, comfort, affluence, and political favour tend to make Christ-followers soft. It's difficult to be tough when you don't think you need to be! Put another way, it's tough to be tough when life is easy. Ease lulls the tough into softness. I don't think I'm advocating for hard times, but tough times produce tough people. If your times are tough right now you can be sure that Godis toughening you up to be more than a conqueror.¶ Many among His disciples heard this and said, "This is tough teaching, too tough to swallow."
TIME TO BE TOUGH
Times are going to get tougher for those who want their commitment to Christ to inform how they live and contribute to society. Unless.Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
¶ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.Romans 8:35-37
- Unless we make some tough choices to put Christ first.If you want some inspiration to be tough, try some biographies of great Christ-followers. Get acquainted with William Carey. Invite John Foxe to tell you his stories (Koorong can introduce you to him and his stories for just $6.99). Read Dr. F.W. Boreham's A BUNCH OF EVERLASTINGS. If you take my advice and then tell me that you found these to be tough reads, don't be surprised at the almost tender look I give you. If you hear me get tough and plead for some tough Christ-followers to write some tough letters and submissions to our State Government in order to protect the elderly, frail, and pre-born, then simply ponder that time and eternity changing word: "unless".
- Unless our Christ-of-Nazareth-following men man-up and get tough and show their wives what it means to be a genuinely responsible and tough, and their children what it means to be tender and tough.
- Unless our Church leaders get tough and take up the mantle of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and take their place "in the gate" (note Psalm 127:5 and Jeremiah 7:2) and speak up and out for the welfare of the vulnerable and the glory of God.
AndrewYou keep me going when times are tough—
my bedrock, GOD, since my childhood.
Psalm 71:5 THE MESSAGE