Wednesday, June 17, 2015

the fellowship of his sufferings

The Word for today:
1 Peter 1:1-12
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1 Peter 1:6-7)
1 Peter is all about suffering. Why does God allow it? What is its purpose? How should we deal with it?
But for most of us (if we are honest with ourselves) the first question would be “What is suffering?”
That’s because we are not a suffering or persecuted church. We think it extraordinary if someone serves, or gives, or prays, or loves sacrificially. So most of us are hard-pressed to name one Christian of our acquaintance who suffers for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, since we have a lot to learn about this subject, let’s dive in. Let’s first of all see how suffering connects us to Jesus Christ.
When we suffer for Christ, Jesus is also suffering through us, through his church. Recall that when Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, he said, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
(Acts 9:4)
Saul thought he was persecuting Christians. He was shocked to learn that he was actually persecuting Jesus Christ.
This is what Peter wrote about our suffering:
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
(1 Peter 4:12-13)
If the gospel is to go forward, someone has to suffer. When a child is born, a woman must travail in pain. Just so, there will be more people born again when more believers are willing to travail. That concept brings sense to these otherwise puzzling verses:
I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am completing what remains of Christ's sufferings for his body, the church.
(Colossians 1:24/NLT)
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. (Philippians 3:8-10/NKJV)

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