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Suffering for Christ

Have you ever experienced suffering in your life? Your answer is probably a loud “Yes”! Now, ask yourself-Was I suffering because of sin? Or suffering because of righteousness? There is a big difference when it comes to following Jesus. Did I suffer because I made a bad choice based upon what I wanted? Or did I suffer because I obeyed what He told me to do?

In 1 Peter 4:15 we are warned about suffering for the wrong reasons, “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler”. Facing the consequences of your own sinful actions is not the suffering that Christ calls us to, but instead

we are to suffer for righteousness sake. As a true disciple of Christ, this cannot be avoided. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” (Romans 8:17)

This doesn’t sound like the typical message you hear at church, does it? A lot of times, we are told “come to Christ and all your problems will go away”. Although we do receive blessing as His children, becoming a true disciple will ultimately involve trial and suffering. Although unpleasant in the moment, this suffering is for a greater purpose and for our sanctification. If we are to look and act like Jesus, what better way to imitate the suffering servant, than to experience it ourselves.

So what does this look like? What does it look like to suffer for Jesus? Not all believers will go through the same experience although every believer must indeed suffer. It is vital that we as believers are all uniquely lead by the Holy Spirit in our own lives and walks. It’s true, not every Christian dies as a martyr or is thrown into prison for their faith. For some it may look more like denying your sinful flesh, and walking in the spirit. Or maybe your suffering is by persevering through persecution from family and friends. All of these ways of suffering transform us to look and act more like Jesus, and if we suffer well, in the right time we will produce good spiritual fruit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” (Galatians 5:22-23)

Whatever God has commanded of us, we must learn to embrace righteous suffering, and persevere knowing that there will be a reward if we do not give up. We can continually look to Jesus Christ and learn from Him how to suffer well during each new trial. “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin.” (1 Peter 4:1)

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