Suffering For Christ

Philippians 1:29 "For to you it has been granted for Christ's sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,"
1 Timothy 3:12: " And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted."
Matthew 5:10 "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
1 Peter 2:21 "For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps."
1Timothy 4:10 "For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in he living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
Matthew 5:11 "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me."
1 Peter 3:17 "For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong."
Romans 8:17 "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, in indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him."

Suffering is not something that anyone of sound mind enjoys. Most people know suffering from aches and pains and infirmities. Some know suffering because of hunger and poverty. Some know suffering because of religious persecution, and genocidal hatred. Yet such suffering is natural in our world. I am sure that right now, millions in Japan are suffering. Homeless, hungry, cold, and probably many still in shock over the tragedy that occurred there.
Sadly many in our land consider themselves to be suffering when it does not even come close to real suffering.
A child given a timeout, or being punished in some way by their parents. A teenager having the cell phone taken away as a form of punishment. An employee given the dirty job. Actually, anything that disrupts our normal routine of life is considered a form of suffering by most people.
Christ, our example in suffering, came to this earth knowing that He would have to suffer greatly. As He matured and began His ministry on this earth, people began to plot against Him to see that He suffer in many diverse ways. Few if any people alive could come close to comprehending the torture and suffering of our Savior as He endured the beatings, floggings, and the mental derision, and finally being nailed to a cross and killed.
The point is that Christ set this example for us because He knew that we also would suffer persecution. When I say 'we', I mean those who are truly committed to serving Christ. Rarely would any uncommitted Christian be persecuted. It is only those who have dedicated themselves to the Lord, and try to teach others about how to obtain salvation, that are truly persecuted.
Now, I realize that persecution takes many forms. Sometimes we may not perceive that someone is persecuting us. They do. Some just blatantly come out and persecute you because you are a Christian. You might think this is all that atheists do, but you would be wrong. There are those who wear the name of Christ who probably persecute you more viciously than any atheist would ever consider doing. Why is this? It is because we choose to do what is right and live according to God's word. It is because we violate the conscience of those who actually persecute us. It is because we prove that one can live a life of piety and meekness in this perverse world we live in. It is because we have that peace which surpasses all understanding that they cannot find in their various vices. It is because we have proven that we trust in Christ, and have committed ourselves to Him and the promotion of His gospel, and plan. It is because we emphasize obedience to the Creator and God which everyone is subject to. It is because we will not cave in to political correctness, or because we will not practice those things which are not authorized.

Acts 5:41 "So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."

In our culture of this present world, there is a mentality of "eye for an eye", "payback is sweet", "revenge is an opiate", or any other phrase you might insert here. We have a natural response when someone tries to hurt us, and we claim our right to defend ourselves, as well as defending others. As humans, we do have compassion for others, so we help them as we can. But as Christians, these natural codes or rules are to be discarded. We must determine if our persecution is because we are Americans, or members of a political party, or have an ethnic background, or have a different colorof skin. I do believe we have the right to defend ourselves in such cases. But the moment we find that we are being persecuted because we are a Christian, or because we practice righteousness, or claim a relationship with God and Christ, we are to lower our defenses. We are to take and accept whatever suffering is laid upon us. As we heard the question: "would you take a bullet for Christ?", I say we better if we want to go to heaven. That does not sound pleasant, and does not sound like something we might allow in our culture, but this very thing is happening around the world. And someday it may happen here. The promise to us is that we will be blessed, IF we suffer with and for Christ.

By Carey Scott via the Eastside Church of Christ bulletin 3/27/2011

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