I had a pastor remind me this weekend of what a privelege it is to suffer so that others might grow in Christ. At first that might sound ridiculous – you surely won’t hear it preached in most of the emerging churches today – that’s not the kind of thing people want to hear. Most people don’t want to hear the truth when it makes them feel uncomfortable.
But the call of Christ is that we take up our cross daily. Peter says that it is a gracious thing to suffer and endure – for this is our calling in Christ (1 Peter 2:20-21). What a privilege it is then, to suffer for others so that they might come to Christ.
What does this look like? Maybe we suffer a little when the organist plays too loud, or too slow. Maybe we suffer a little when we don’t like all that new fangled priase music. Maybe we suffer a little when we allow others to slander our name and revile us, but we do not lash out in return. Maybe we bear with one another and stay committed to each other in marriage, in friendships, in church, even when we don’t see eye to eye and staying together isn’t easy. Our call is to suffer as Christ suffered, bearing the burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ, so that we may build each other up in the likeness of Christ.
When have we suffered too much? When is it time to separate from one another because the offence is too great? When do we begin to cut down those who have attacked us? Christ left an example we are to follow – we retaliate when he retaliated. We revile when he reviled. Isn’t it a gracious thing that Christ did not revile, he did not accuse, he did not threaten – but he continued to trust in God who would judge all things justly. Because of the way he suffered, our sins have been forgiven, we are dead to sin and alive to righteousness.
What an honor we have then to share in the sufferings of Christ, to suffer as he did, so that others might know his grace. Isn’t it a privelege to have such maturity in Christ that you can lay aside your personal preferences for worship, when you can forget your pride and innate need to protect your reputation, when you can set it all down so that others might be drawn to Christ.
It adds new light to what Paul said in Philippians 3:10-11, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and share in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Oh this is so true! It is so much easier to bail out when things get tough, but so much more difficult to stay put and weather those suffering times. I think this is a serious malady of the modern church goer – they’d rather just go somewhere else when things stop being easy. And in many other relationships, too, as you mentioned, we want to run when the going gets tough. But suffering – and standing our ground – is so much more important.