Terry R Baughman is Lead Pastor for LifeChurch in Gilbert, AZ. See his complete bio at trbaughman.com
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Sharing His Suffering
Terry R. Baughman
“We share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:17–18 NIV).
In our efforts to share the Good News we often neglect to tell of the suffering and persecution that may be associated with the Christian life. It’s true that in the larger picture of eternity any suffering is not worth mentioning and any persecution just lets us know we are on the path of right living. However, it may come as a shock to new followers of Christ that not everyone is thrilled about our decision to believer in Jesus.
The call of discipleship and our commitment to Christ causes changes in our lives that we never expected. Yet, we are so thrilled with our new found freedom from sin and the transforming experience of the Holy Spirit that we seldom have second thoughts, and enthusiastically embrace the changes that Jesus brings into our lives. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 NKJ). It’s a new way of living and we delight in the new direction of His path.
Along the way we learn that, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 NKJ), but we, like the disciples, may also find joy in suffering. After the healing of the lame man near the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, Peter and John were arrested, interrogated, and beaten. Yet they went their way, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41 NKJ). They did not retreat in fear and intimidation. Rather, “daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42 NKJ). They embraced the suffering for a righteous cause and continued following Jesus.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus pronounced a blessing on His followers who suffered persecution. He said, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12 NKJ). Knowing Jesus is to know suffering. We are not greater than our Lord and not immune to persecution. It is to be expected.
Suffering and persecution are not afflictions we seek after with some twisted view of pleasure, but rather the result of living a life devoted to the cause of Christ and willingly accepting the consequences that we may face. Peter wrote of suffering later in his life as he reflected on both the pain and the joyful results of these experiences. He said, “Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12 NKJ).
The joy of suffering is to see the end result, the glory that shall be when we are in the presence of Jesus for eternity. With that understanding, all the trials endured throughout life are not worth mentioning. As Paul said, “Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 NIV).
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10–11 NIV).