Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. (2 Tim. 2:10)

MAYBE YOUR FITNESS instructor has told you there is no gain without pain. Physical therapists help people work through their pain in order to regain strength and flexibility. Sometimes, enduring discomfort is the best way to heal.

Paul told Timothy that the Christian walk may be painful at times. After all, our values and beliefs often rub against the grain of society. Some social circles seem to consider being a Christian a form of leprosy. In many areas of the world, Christians are physically abused, if not killed, for their beliefs. But for most of us, the pain we experience is more emotional than physical. The barbs of misunderstanding and jeers scrape our feelings. Scoffers scrunch up their noses or purse their lips together in a tight line when they see a cross around our neck or see us reading the Bible or refusing drugs offered at a party. If we refuse the flirtations of someone who is not our spouse, we may meet the response: “Oh, you’re a Christian, then?” An uncomfortable silence may follow.

Since Christ calls us to live apart from this world as holy people, we must risk the heartache that comes with standing up for our beliefs, and as a result, the consequences of standing out. True, we are to love everyone, but our task is to love them into repentance and faith in Christ. That assignment may result in friction and bruised emotions.

To gain a soul for Christ, we may have to endure the pain of being perceived as different.

Julie B. Cosgrove is a widowed Christian author and speaker who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. She is involved with women’s and outreach ministries.