Suffering With Suffering
1 Peter 3:18
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.
It’s really important to distinguish that Christ suffered for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to suffer for our sins. That doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. In fact, Jesus said a few things about suffering...
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.
Clearly, by Jesus’ own words, Believers are not going to have a trouble free existence, so we should be very cautious of people who teach otherwise.
The other thing to be cautious of is people who teach that our suffering makes us holy. That isn’t true. People who suffer more are not holier than those who suffer little nor are they deserving of more suffering for some reason.
God makes us holy when we believe in his Son. That’s it. HE is the one that sets us apart into the set of people that will not have their sins held against them any longer. We did not do that for ourselves or continue that for ourselves by what we go through. Likewise, my counterpart Believers on the other side of the world currently being truly persecuted for their faith did not do anything to suffer as some sort of punishment for lack of faith or something. Jesus told his disciples that the persecution that goes on is inevitable and everywhere so we need to be right with God because perishing in your sins is way worse than persecution.
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
During our lifetime many things will happen good and bad, so repentance is the most important thing. Jesus freely forgives, and his forgiveness is not dependent upon my good or bad circumstances. He makes it clear that we all will suffer to some degree or anther, but those who suffer more aren’t suffering more because they deserve it, nor are they suffering more to be more saved than they already are.
They are suffering more because Christians are all over the place and currently where they are geographically located is more dangerous for Christians right now than where I live. But I am called to pray for them and to remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies according to Hebrews 13:3. Because one day, maybe soon too, I will need them to remember to pray for me!
2 Timothy 3:12
...And everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But we do not suffer persecution to get a godly life. Simply, the whole world will not tolerate godliness for long.
Dear Lord Jesus,
I have no idea when and if a time for me to be persecuted will come, so I pray today for me to be strong and courageous, to always trust in you, and to always be looking forward to the things of heaven and not the things of earth. And it is imperative that I pray these same things for the persecuted church today. Most of whom I do not know, I am praying for faceless strangers, but you know each one of them personally. You love them just as much as you love me and you protect, provide, sustain, and guide them, and, best of all, personally welcome them into your presence just like you do and will do for ALL who love and trust you regardless of their geographic location. I love you and thank you. Thank you so much for suffering for my sins so that I don’t have to suffer for my sins. And thank you that YOU have overcome all the trouble I will have in life. Thank you so much! I love you and pray in your name, amen.