57. SHARING IN CHRIST’S SUFFERING

THE PERSON WHO has God’s righteousness by faith, and who looks forward to the resurrection, must share also in Christ’s suffering (Philippians 3:6-11). Our suffering does not atone for sins, as Christ’s did, but it does develop character and purify us for God’s better service.

Persecution will come. It is not always physical. Sometimes it means ugly remarks by others. It might mean losing popularity with a certain group. It might even mean that other “church people” say untrue things or try to hurt.

When any kind of persecution comes, the Christian should look to Jesus. He, too, suffered when He did not deserve it. But by doing that He left us an example: both in how to endure suffering, and that we should suffer for His sake (I Peter 2:19-24).

Because we follow Christ, we know how to act when these things do come. We are not to swear (James 5:13). We are not to strike back (I Peter 2:23). We are not to be troubled or afraid (I Peter 3:14). Instead we are to use the occasion to give an explanation of our hope in Christ (I Peter 3:15). We can look forward, too, to sharing in Christ’s glory (I Peter 4:13).

To us, Christ is life’s center, source and goal. True living begins with Him, revolves around Him, and finds its fulfillment in Him. His cross is an example of God’s power and wisdom. And His resurrection is our reminder that some day we, too, will have full redemption from all of Satan’s works.

“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him” (II Timothy 2:12). God has promised!