‘when the strong meat of God’s word is likened to gristle’

Hebrews 5:14

But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

As a Christian and more importantly a pastor and student of the scriptures, there are occasions that in prayerful meditation upon the word of God, I liken it to chewing on a piece of meat with a touch of gristle in it.

We are commanded to desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby, 1 Peter 2:2, but in the letter to the Hebrews 5:11-14 we are exhorted to move on from the milk of God’s word and feed upon the strong meat of His word. It is in these times that we occasionally run across a portion of God’s word that we find it rather difficult to chew and harder yet to swallow. It not palatable to the flesh, if you please. I liken it to when Christ told the multitude following Him; John 6:60 that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, to which they responded,

“this is a hard saying who can hear it”?

I was reading vom’s ‘extreme devotions’ about Dinh Trung who has put hundreds of miles on his bicycle, traveling bumpy dirt roads to minister to the K’Ho tribe in Vietnam. On April 4, 1995, the police suddenly pulled him off his bicycle and started to beat him. He was taken to prison and held for six months before his trial.

Eventually, due to pressure on the government from Christian aid organizations, Trung was offered release six months early. But, although he had a faithful wife and two small children waiting for him, the evangelist wasn’t ready to leave! He saw this as another divine opportunity to preach to the lost. What could they do to him? He was already in prison!

Do you feel it? It is the gristle in the meat…

‘this is a hard saying who can understand it’.

How could a man imprisoned for simply preaching the gospel choose rather to suffer the afflictions of His Lord, than to get out and be with his faithful wife and two small children?

“Through Trung’s efforts in the prison near Quang Ngai, many came to Christ. After hearing of the numerous Christians praying and petitioning on his behalf, how could he pass up this opportunity to set an example by forsaking his life for the kingdom of God? Trung refused his early release and chose to remain in prison and continue his work as an evangelist.” vom’s extreme devotion

In the church in America we have difficulty appreciating such commitment to a cause. We look at the actions of those immersed in radical Islam, that are willing to die for the cause of Jihad and we shake our head in disbelief. It is not the killing that I draw your attention to my friend, for it is vile in its acts, but if we are honest with ourselves it is their commitment that we can not understand. It is something that the church in America knows very little about,

‘this is a hard saying who can understand it’.

Trung can, as well as the disciples did in the early church. In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 5), we find that they were imprisoned, like Trung for simply preaching the gospel. Before they were released they were beaten by the religious leaders of the day but did not regret such adversity but we are told… “And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name”.

Trung, like these early Apostles see this level of commitment as the only option, even unto death. Christ tells us that if we are not willing to hate father, mother, brother, sister and even oneself and willing to lay down his/her life, can not be His disciple.

“this is a hard saying, who can hear it?”


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