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GOSPEL OF ADVERSITY, PART 2

by | Jan 16, 2016 | Gospel of Adversity (A Mini-Series), Obedience, Suffering

In the second part of the Series on the theme of Christ’s and the Christian’s suffering, today let’s focus on two related subjects…

Responsibility

Even as the Saviour suffered, what is the Christian’s responsibility towards suffering (it would be only physical and emotional suffering, for none can take away the constant spiritual joy in our hearts)? Well, we ought to welcome it (Philippians 1:29), like the Apostles of the Early Church did, ensuring all along that we are suffering for right reasons only (1 Peter 2:20).

Consider this Scripture…“after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Acts 5:40-41).

Imprisoned without a just cause for 4 years, doesn’t the Apostle Paul, writing to the Philippian Church, use the words “Rejoice” and “Joy” not less than fifteen times at a time many in his place would have liberally used words such as “Regret” and “Woe?” Honestly, it would not be a case of exaggeration to say the Apostle Paul turned the tables on suffering both virtually and figuratively.

During his imprisonment in Rome, Paul would be “guarded” (Acts 28:16) by Roman Soldiers in three shifts of eight hours each. Being the passionate evangelist ever (1 Cor 9:19-23), do you think Paul ever let go of a single opportunity to talk about Christ to the Roman Soldiers…prophesying to them some times, speaking in tongues now and then and even healing them of their sicknesses, no wonder he “rejoices” “For everyone here, including the whole palace guard (Praetorium) knows that I am in chains because of Christ.” (Phillippians 1:13), so much so we now wonder…who was the real captive…the Apostle or his captive audience (read Roman soldiers)? Talk of fish swimming into the net…

Then there is martyrdom (Heb 11:35-37)…we need to rejoice in that time too…knowing our “sunset” in this perishable World would lead to a glorious “sunrise” in the imperishable One besides inspiring many to put their best foot forward for the cause of Christ.

Reason

The two reasons why Christians suffer are…

Firstly, they are part of this sin-accursed World (Romans 8:22-23), and as such, they are not immune to deadly diseases or financial upheavals. Yes, sometimes God spares them and even cures them of incurable diseases, but mostly such “signs” are reserved for unbelievers (1 Cor 14:22) to lead them to faith, and not necessarily for those who have already been cured of a far deadlier spiritual disease called sin (2 Tim 4:20).

Secondly, the world is not in them. Hey, Christians are like a boat, “it” has to be in water, but water (read the World with its wayward priorities) ought not to enter “it.” So scorn follows as day follows night. People think it strange for instance when we do not laugh at some of their jokes or walk in their corrupt ways (1 Peter 4:4). Hmmm…poor Christians, the misfits in this World, only blink innocently at sin and do not wink at it!

No wonder then, neither Christ (Luke 9:23/John 16:33) nor did the Early Apostles soft-pedal on the issue of suffering (Acts 14:22), rather they presented the “Gospel of adversity” with no sugar coating. The other side of the coin when it comes to suffering is that it deepens our relationship with our Redeemer, even as we cling to Him for strength and comfort. Therefore it came as no surprise when a great Indian evangelist namely Sadhu Sundar Singh observed “The cross bears those who bear the cross.”

Prayer: Father, just as Your Son took all the suffering in His stride in implicit obedience, enable us too to face the sufferings in the same spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Suresh Manoharan
An unworthy servant
J and SM Ministries

(To access the entire “Gospel of Adversity” mini-series, please click here.)

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