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The Sufferings of Christ
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ!
The Scripture tells Christians that the sufferings of Christ abound in them. The question is, Why are our sufferings referred to as the sufferings of Christ? Christ's life was about doing the will of His Father and making atonement for our sins. How do we, as Christians, join Christ in His sufferings?
Rejection by This World
Christians are rejected by this world. From the world's point of view, there was nothing good or beautiful about Jesus. He was not particularly attractive, there was nothing desirable about the life He lived, and there was nothing true or good about His claims to be the Savior of the world. According to the world, Jesus was not worthy of respect or admiration. Even though He was the Son of God, Jesus suffered in that He was completely rejected, scorned, ridiculed, and eventually murdered. Scripture tells us that all who live a Godly life shall suffer persecution.
2Tim 3:12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Our Hostile Environment
Christian live in a hostile world, the same world that rejected and murdered Christ. It should be no surprise that this world has neither respect nor time for the Christian or his message of forgiveness.
Every day Christians are tortured and murdered for their allegiance to Christ. This world will never stop hating Christ nor those who profess him as Savior and Lord. Christ is now glorified but His followers are on earth, contending and confronting the the same powers of Darkness that resisted Jesus.
Christ Is The Hated One
Our battle with Darkness is a continuation of Christ's battle with Darkness. Jesus said He was God and that He was the only way of salvation. For that reason this world hates Christ and anyone that agrees with and follows Him. Darkness, even though defeated, continues to resist Christ, and continues to wage the same war against His followers. When we come to Christ, we then become the target of the enemies of Christ, which often leads to profound suffering. We may not suffer in the same way Christ suffered, but as Christ suffered because of sin and sinful men, we also will suffer as we struggle against sin. Our life is an evidence of the saving power of Jesus Christ, and our message is that Christ alone can save. For that reason, we are hated with the same hatred that Christ suffered.
We join Christ in His suffering when we are faithful during times of pain or tragedy. Life's dark moments such as, sickness, failure, injury, rejection, death, etc.. cause intense and often, ongoing suffering. As Christian's, we resist the temptations that are common to suffering by remaining faithful to Christ. We join Christ, Who is our example, in that He remained faithful during His suffering.
Job gained victory over evil in the context of great suffering. We are given the same privilege, to defeat evil, in the context of suffering. Faithfulness, in the midst of suffering, is pleasing to God, and is the way of Christ. The sufferings of Christ are a gift. Yes, a gift from the Father, to those who love Christ, to walk out the victory of Christ over evil, in the context of pain. Remember, the victory of Jesus over sin, was walked out in the context of suffering.
Romans 8:15-18 (KJV) 15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Philippians 1:29 (KJV) 29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Suffering takes many different forms, but our response, like Job, and like Christ, is to remain faithful. If we remain faithful in our suffering, then like those who have gone before us, we will inherit the great blessings of God, either in this life or the next.
The theology of this culture is a theology of getting, consuming and no pain. But that's not the Theology of Christ. Life is not about me or my comforts. My fulfillment and my accomplishments or the lack of them are not really important in an eternal sense. Life is about the victory of Jesus Christ over sin, and we His people, walking out that victory, often in the context of pain. Life is about the redemptive purposes of God in Christ Jesus. Life is about being saved.
God bless you,