Thursday, June 16, 2011

Does God want you to suffer?

Paul makes it clear in his second letter to Timothy that ALL followers of Jesus Christ WILL be persecuted. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ we will DESIRE to live a godly life; and if you desire to live a life focused on glorifying God you WILL be persecuted:

2Timothy 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Peter gives us an amazing reassurance and promise when he writes that WE ARE BLESSED FOR IT! How awesome is that? When we suffer for righteousness sake, we will be blessed for it:

1Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,

This is not any suffering, or suffering because of disobedience....the suffering we are BLESSED FOR is suffering for righteousness sake. It is very interesting that in the VERY NEXT VERSE, Peter commands us to ALWAYS be ready to give a defense of the reason for the hope that is within us:

1Peter 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

Why would a Christian suffer for sharing and defending the hope given them by Jesus Christ? Because the Gospel is offensive to a lost and hell bent world. Even those pretending to be Christians are offended and moved to anger when the true Gospel is preached. Do we have to be rude, harsh and self-righteous for The Gospel to be offensive? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The Gospel is offensive on it's own, we do not need to make an effort to make it more offensive by acting harsh and disrespectful. As a matter of fact, we are called to be gentle and respectful. If this is the way we are to behave, why do we see so many people claiming to be Christians behaving exactly like the world? The answer is easy, they are not Spirit led. Someone may say, “well, with a statement like that you are being disrespectful and harsh!” Gentleness and respect does not mean we are to avoid telling the truth. When Jesus told the most religious people of the day that they are “of their father the devil”, was He being harsh and disrespectful?....or was He being truthful, that they might repent? I got saved when someone preached the true Gospel in a group of people that was suppose to be Christian, including myself. I was deceived and confused of my salvation and I am forever thankful that this person was bold enough to preach the Truth.

In verse 17, Peter gives us another paradigm shift. We see many verses that call us to change our thinking from the world view, that we have been bombarded with our entire life, to a Biblical, Godly view. When we suffer, many times it is by the will of God that we suffer. So many people have been deceived by what is commonly known as the “health wealth and prosperity gospel” which says, “God wants me to be happy, live a perfect life, have lots of money, and not have a worry in the world.” If that were true, why did the apostles suffer unto death for their faith. If that were true, why does the Bible make much of Stephen, the first Christian martyr? Many times in our suffering He is drawing us closer to Himself; but, whatever the reason may be, He allows what brings Him the most Glory. Our “job description” is to glorify Our King, and if suffering is how He is most glorified then our attitude needs to be, let it be so:

1Peter 3:17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil.

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