“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”
Here we have such a beautiful picture of suffering and rejoicing in it. The Apostles had been beaten before the council of Israel for speaking the Gospel boldly in the name of Christ. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Christ. I just let this idea and this worldview sink in for a while today, and it brought me to tears. The reason is because I saw clearly in this passage how suffering is mercy from God (to bring us to repentance that we may turn to Christ for cleansing), and how suffering for the name of Christ specifically is taking up your cross for the sake of Christ and His glory and honor. The Apostles had such a vision of Christ and His glory that they could not help but speak about what they had seen and heard. And even moreso, they praised God they could suffer for His sake!
We are not merely supposed to imitate them. Of course we are to do that. But we cannot of ourselves! We are utterly dependant upon the Holy Spirit to give us the eyes, ears, strength and power to live in this worldview. We cannot conjure up this image of Christ of our own volition and will. We are dependant on the One who makes it evident. The only way we can see God in this worldview is by us seeking Him in the Scriptures and having this vision revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. We are utterly dependent upon God to show us His glory (just as Moses was totally dependent upon God to have His glory revealed to Him on the mountain). And we go to see the glory of Christ in Scripture and in communion with Him personally in prayer where we experience His very presence. This thinking is so backward from our Western culture. I have a hard time shaking it myself and struggle. In fact I cannot shake it myself. And it will take a supernatural revelation of God for all of us to see Christ in this greater light, so much that we rejoice in suffering and see that we are counted worthy to suffer for the glory of God!