Monday, June 22, 2015

Why Are We Surprised When We Suffer for Christ?

I am no expert in suffering. Quite frankly, I do not know that I have ever truly suffered for Jesus Christ. While many brothers and sisters in Christ suffer overseas in places like North Korea and the Middle East, I live in the relative freedom of the USA. I do not know why this is the case; it's just where God decided that I would be born.

It both fascinates and saddens me that so many Christians act surprised when we are actually called upon to suffer for the cause of Christ. I'm mainly referring here to American Christians (I cannot speak with knowledge about this topic as it relates to other countries). When Christians are treated in the USA with even a little bit of contempt the response is predictable. Christians will basically say, "How dare they?" and act stunned that anyone would ever act in such a manner.

(This post stems from an earlier one entitled Sorry, But I Can't Stop Asking Questions.)

This type of reaction by Christians toward suffering tells us two things. First, and most troubling, it shows us that these Christians either do not know what the bible says about this issue or they simply do not believe what it says.

Romans 8:16-17, "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

Philippians 1:29, "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake."

I Peter 2:21, "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps."

The list of bible verses goes on and on.

The second thing Christians being surprised by suffering shows us is that they are confusing cultural conservatism with living for Christ. While the Republican Party says we should stand up for our rights, the kingdom of Christ is about sacrificing our rights. The culture warriors insist on self-defense while Jesus calls us to lives of non-violence.

In the end, I believe the main reason American Christians are shocked at having to suffer even a little bit is because we are addicted to comfort. We are used to living lives of relative ease. We get bothered when our smart phones don't work just right. We are indignant when the drive-thru is too slow. We think we are going to die if the air conditioning goes out.

We need to take scripture seriously. Jesus has called us to lives of suffering. This does not mean that we seek it out, but rather that we accept it when it comes upon us. Instead of being surprised, we must understand that this is what it is to walk in our Lord's footsteps.

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