I guess I got just a tiny taste of suffering for Christ. If it gave people a glimpse of what Christ did for them, it was worth it. The thing that shames me, even as I say this, is that Christians all around the world that are suffering tremendously for Christ. They lose their jobs, are disowned by their families, are imprisoned, tortured, and even killed.
Some of us really know very little about suffering, especially suffering for Christ. We think that if we live right and are close to the Lord, that we won't suffer. We think that somehow, the Lord will keep us from suffering as some kind of reward if we live right.
In many countries, if a person lives right and is close to the Lord, they will certainly face suffering. An organization called "Voice of the Martyrs" calls the church to pray for the persecuted church worldwide. In a video they produced, a man who had spent many years in prison was speaking about persecution. He said that persecution was good, because the more persecution there was; the more people came to Christ. He was glad to suffer if it meant more people coming to the Lord. That challenged me because I honestly couldn't relate to that concept at all.
However, when I look in the New Testament, many of the early Christians did know about suffering. Read the first eight chapters of the book of Acts and see how they suffered, and how the Lord used their suffering to further the spread of the Gospel. Then look at our hero! Jesus reminds us:
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:10-12)"Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you." (John 15:20
Are we willing to suffer for Christ? Will it confuse us if we do suffer and are persecuted? If we avoid suffering and persecution, we may miss His will for our lives. Peter, who certainly knew his share of suffering, told Christian slaves, "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps." (1 Peter 2:21)
Let's be willing to suffer for Christ. He sure did suffer for us.
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