The blessing of persecution
By “His stripes we are healed” of eternal damnation, and by our stripes others can
hear of Christ’s stripes for them. Oh the cost of possessing the light of the world. Like Paul says “we fill up in our body that which lacked in the sufferings of Christ”. It should cost us in persecution and hardships to take the Gospel around the globe. If it doesn’t, then we must not be about his business. One missionary lady who was viciously attacked by those she came to minister to was asked if her years of service was worth it, to which she said no. But then said that He, Jesus was worth it.
Suffering for Being a Christian
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the Shekinah glory which is my presence which filled the temple, and now which fills you. Is my glory evident through you to all whom you meet? Can they see my light shine from you? Some will be drawn to it, but beware, others will be repulsed by it. That is good because all must make up their mind about me.
I AM the God who allows persecution to separate those of faith from those of pretense as the wind separates the chaff from the wheat. I allow suffering so that their faith may be refined as with fire and be found pure. My salvation cost me everything and is freely given to you. Even though your salvation is free, your faith must cost you everything for my sake.
I AM the God who ultimately chooses which of you suffers and to what degree. I know who I deem worthy of the trials that I allow you to receive. I know ahead of time what you can handle as you are controlled by my Spirit. I AM the God who allowed Satan to torment Job but also put limits on him. I know what each of you needs in order to refine you into my image. But don’t think that I don’t know what you are going through. Because;
I AM the God who suffered for you, the Just for the unjust. If they treated me, your lord, in this manner, then do not think it strange when they treat you in like manner. I endured the cross by looking to the joy set before me, so you can too. “Weeping may endure through the night but joy comes in the morning.” These trials will last for just a short time in light of eternity. Don’t be like Esau who despised his birthright for a bowl of soup. He said what good is a birthright if I die. It would be better to die with integrity and faith intact than to cling to this life with your belly filled.
I AM the God who will be revealed in all glory one day. When I am, I will have my reward with me for you who truly believe and especially for those who suffer for my name.
What does it mean to suffer?
Everyone suffers, suffering for his name can be simply for the reason that I prohibit my selfish nature to have its way by partaking in sinful practices like the rest of the world; “They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.” Denying the flesh so you can meet the needs of others is suffering for his name. Obeying God rather than your own desires by going overseas can be suffering. The degree of suffering for doing what is right varies in every circumstance up to martyrdom. Does a hardship you are facing prevent you from carrying on in your work for the Lord? Could Satan be tempting you to quit or disobey God in that circumstance? Then you are suffering for the Lord. We don’t always have to think that the only definition is that we are standing in front of a firing squad for Jesus. The question remains, how well do you suffer? Are you wasting your suffering? Or is God glorified in your suffering?
You want me to thank God for hardships?
In this passage God tells us one more such answer to the “Why me God” question in times of hardship. All trials are given that we can grow in The Lord (see Rom 8:28, 29), but some sufferings befall us specifically because we are believers as indicated by this passage. Here he actually says to rejoice, praise God, and actually says that we are blessed because of these sufferings. We are to look through the trial to the joy you will receive later like Jesus did. Thus we can obey the will of God as stated in 1 Thess 5:18 by “giving thanks in all things” by faith (for the hardship itself). God is giving you an opportunity to receive reward through this very hardship if we have the proper attitude. Is that not something to be thankful for?
”Please do not pray for the persecution to be removed”
We in the west are so used to peace and righteousness in our society that we think persecution is unreasonable. But from the Middle East to the Far East true Christians are familiar with persecution. Persecution is the norm not the exception. There are more martyrs for Christ today than that of any other century. However, persecution is protecting the flock and the Gospel from the pollution that the freedom of the west has allowed to take root in the church. Persecution is not something that the fair weather or faint hearted “Christian” will put up with. We in the west pray for our brothers in the east that the persecution would stop, whereas they say do not pray that the persecution would be removed because it cleanses the church from the pretenders in Christianity. Rather, in the east, they pray for persecution for us here in the west to start so that the Western church would be purified of its hypocrisy.
How many gave up their lives so that we could believe?
1 Cor 1:24 “Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” Christ gave up his life for the church, but now for the rest of the elect around the globe to know of his sacrifice and love for them, we have to sacrifice our all to reach them all and to bring them to maturity. For the sake of the body to reach its appointed number, Christ has given us the task of denying our lives of comfort to reach our generation. In this way we suffer and complete what suffering Christ would have had to do in order to reach the last man. Many a believer had to give up his and her life to bring the Gospel to you and me. Many are doing this now for others. By His stripes (we are healed of eternal damnation), and by our stripes others can hear of His stripes for them. Stand up like good soldiers under the pressure of hardships and suffering so that others may know him.
More to come,