“...that I may gain Christ and be found in him...”—Philippians 3:8-9, NIV1984

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fellowship Through Suffering

10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death...—Philippians 3:10, NASB
Will Lammert, Memorial Tragende (Woman with Burden) for the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp memorial site, 1959 By Flechtheim (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. This is the last concentration that imprisoned Corrie ten Boom before she was released due to a clerical error.
[Note: This is a continuation of thoughts on Philippians 3.] There are countless ways that Jesus suffered for righteous causes, not as a consequence of sin. As we begin to live in a Christ-like way, counting things as loss for the sake of Christ and dying to our old ways, we will experience suffering. Our flesh will suffer when we put to death our sinful desires, especially if we have indulged in habitual sins for a long time. For example, if we’re addicted to drugs, there are definitely physiological side-effects associated with halting their use.

If we’re sharing our faith with the lost, we will experience some level of persecution. When we purposely deny ourselves the pleasures and comforts of this world for the sake of the gospel, we will suffer mentally, possibly feeling like we’re “missing out” on what others get to enjoy. After all, Jesus didn’t even have an earthly home once He carried out His ministry (see. Matt. 8:20) so of course He was not concerned about whether He would experience the 100 best places around the world before He died or live out the lifestyle that His culture hoped for.

We will suffer as we take up our crosses daily to follow Jesus (see Luke 9:23), and this necessarily means that put our sinful ways to death as God gives us the grace and strength to do so. This is how we’re conformed to Jesus’ death.

The benefit to living this way, of course, is that we can better know and relate to our Savior who experienced the ultimate suffering, beginning with leaving His heavenly home and taking on the humility of mankind. If this was not bad enough, he was falsely accused, betrayed, abandoned, mocked, and brutally, murdered by His enemies, whom He came to save.

When we suffer for righteous reasons, we identify with Christ and find our hope, ultimately, in His resurrection, especially if we suffer to the very point of shedding our own blood. No one can take away our hope of eternal life.

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