Christian Suffering is a Gift

The title is theological statement derived from 1 Peter 4:1-2,

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, [2] so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

The ease with which theology flows from our lips may be miles apart from the difficulty of applying said theology.  Why is suffering a gift?  Simple: it purges the dross of worldliness from our lives, “to live . . . no longer for human passions,” so that we live, “for the will of God.”  Suffering as Christians removes our hedonistic appetite for temporal vanities and makes us yearn for eternal glory.  

I do not pretend to have an idea of what it’s like to attend prayer meeting under duress or evangelize with my head on the chopping block.  But many of our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world do.  In fact, this was posted on May 3 in the Voice of the Martyrs newsroom: “Christians in Iraq have been warned by Muslim extremists to leave the country immediately or risk violent death, according to The Voice of the Martyrs contacts.”  A clear message is being sent around the world concerning Biblical truth in the public square: it is not welcome!

Here’s what I do know.  The apostle Peter calls every Christian to “arm ourselves with the same way of thinking”?  What thinking?  Since Christ suffered, we too will suffer for the sake of Christ (cf. 2 Timothy 3:12).  Sometimes all it takes to choose suffering is to be faithful and obedient to God and His word.  But when we approach spiritual warfare with this mindset (we are “armed” with this way of thinking), we will not be surprised when we suffer for Christ’s sake (1 Peter 4:12-19).

We will suffer, but suffering is a gift.  Hard but glorious theology.


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