“They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
That word “necessary” really leaps out and grabs your attention, especially when what is being called necessary is the undergoing of hardships. I don’t think that the Marketing Department approved this message. It’s certainly not a point that would win votes for a politician.
Christ does not promise an easy path for those who follow him. He does not invite us to claim the blessings of wealth. What he invites us to do is to take up our cross. Paul and Barnabus seem to be telling the Christians of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch that the cross and the invitation go together. We can’t say yes to Jesus, but no to the cross