As Paul closed his letter to the Galatians, he wrote, “From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). What does it mean to “bear the marks” of the Lord Jesus?
In Paul’s case, he literally endured a great deal in his body for the Lord. To the Corinthians, he wrote, “From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep…” (2 Cor. 11:24-25). To physically endure such would be the absolute undoing of many a fair-weather Christian today.
Yet, in the absence of physical persecution, there are still “marks” to be born. Many today paint Christianity as a joyous, pleasant, fun-fest, with nothing but sunshine, rainbows and unicorns. Make no mistake, Christianity is joyous, can be pleasant and is frequently fun. Still, Christianity is also challenging, difficult and full of trials, adversities and persecutions. These manifest themselves in various ways and in varying degrees and at varying times, and rarely are they pleasant.
Jesus taught, “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:14). Most want their Christianity easy, convenient and accessible. Yet, how easily are the difficult truths about real Christianity forgotten, particularly in a day when “Christianity” is painted with such broad, difficulty-free strokes.
Therefore, it is essential for a disciple not to be taken in with the fun, frolic and folly of easy Christianity. By all means, enjoy the times of peace that Christianity frequently affords, but never shy away or forget that as we live in this life, we are engaged in a spiritual warfare and that the way will be difficult. Christianity will leave many marks in these physical bodies, but the Lord promises so much more to he who bears them and endures to the end.