“Suffering now, glory later!” It sounds like a pretty tricky pitch to try and convince people of, doesn’t it. But it’s what Paul says to us in the middle of Romans chapter 8. In verse 17 we have this wonderful encouragement of mind-boggling blessing with Jesus: we are adopted into God’s family, co-heirs with Christ. When we are united with him, everything that is his becomes ours. But that comes with a kicker: being like Jesus means sharing in his sufferings as well as his glory.
Now, the Apostle Paul knew suffering. Beatings and shipwrecks (yes, more than one!), rejection and persecution, the agonising struggle with his own sin. But he also knew a greater glory awaited. And so, his whole life had a ‘cross shape’ to it. Following the way of Jesus and laying down his own life because he trusted God’s promise of the glory to come: suffering now, glory later. It’s a difficult pitch, but a life-changing perspective and one that frees us to make some pretty bold decisions. Instead of being consumed in seeking glory and comfort now, we can make choices that we know will leave us vulnerable to suffering. Choices that we make gladly because we know God has the future secure.
But it’s also a perspective that most people don’t have. If they don’t know Jesus, this is not their confidence. To put it really bluntly, it’s just “suffering now, suffering later.” That’s not trying to deny that there are good things in life. It’s just acknowledging what is glaringly obvious in the way our world works: everyone is struggling and striving to avoid suffering, and with very limited success. And that’s what drives us on in mission: because loving our neighbours means we don’t just want temporary band-aid fixes for them, but eternal rescue in Jesus.
With this in mind, we want to be a church that keeps investing in the spread of the gospel far beyond ourselves. In particular, Trinity Brighton has a great track record of contributing to the training and development of gospel workers who are now serving God in other parts of our city and beyond. To name just a few, Tim Blagg is the youth pastor at Trinity Church Adelaide, where Stephen Urmston also serves as the kids and families pastor. Mark Curran is the associate pastor at Trinity Campbelltown. Colin Taylor is the senior pastor at Trinity Woodcroft and Jamie Seyfang has just been announced as the new senior pastor at Trinity Colonel Light Gardens. All of these gospel workers have spent formative years in various training roles at our church that were made possible through the sacrificial giving of members at Trinity Brighton. And our Leadership Team has made provision in next year’s budget to make a similar investment in a young person who is being equipped for pastoral ministry. To be clear, this will require sacrificial giving from us that we won’t see a direct return on. But we do it because we can hold our worldly comforts lightly, confident that the important things are secure with Christ. We know we have peace with God now, and the hope of eternal life to come.
I look forward to bringing you updates on the prospect of a student minister that might join us next year for their ongoing formation for ministry, but in the meantime, I pray that we would grow in every way to see the great joy and deep security that comes through faith in Christ Jesus. Then I reckon we’ll find that the awkward pitch of “suffering now, glory later” becomes a wonderful call to action in all kinds of sacrificial ways, for the blessing of our neighbours and the glory of our Lord.