The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(Thanks to Jay for inspiration on this one)
"Privilege and Responsibility"
Part 3 - "The Privilege of Suffering"
"To suffer for the Lord Jesus in a fallen world constitutes "I get to" far more than "I have to."
A good friend, in response to yesterday's message, made the point that the sufferings experienced by walking with the Lord Jesus Christ in a fallen world may be considered privilege, just as we view our responsibilities in the light of "I get to." The Apostle Paul confirms…
"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29).
Suffering does not feel like privilege, of course, nor do we minimize the nature and extent of pain by suggesting that we view our trials in such terms. The God who "has no pleasure in the death of the wicked" surely takes no pleasure in the suffering His sons and daughters in Christ must experience in our present lifetime (Ezekiel 33:11). However, He knows that "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Trouble, pain, difficulty, and loss experienced through the providence of God's administrations and allowances fulfill the glorious purpose of our being conformed to the spiritual and moral image of the Lord Jesus (Romans 8:28-29). God could do no better thing for former rebels than to make us like His glorious Son. Thus, the challenges necessary to accomplish this purpose of grace must be viewed as a vital component of a wondrous gift. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).
Could we ask any martyr of the church about responsibility fulfilled in having died for their Lord, the response would be, "Responsibility? Oh no, it was privilege!" This brings to mind the legend that the Apostle Peter, upon his departure from the world by crucifixion, requested that he be crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to die as had his Lord. Our brother of old honored the Savior thereby, experiencing the suffering, pain, and death that comes by way of a cross. He would tell us nevertheless, "I did to have to die for my Lord. I got to."
This is not an easy perspective and conviction to embrace with our hearts. We will often be tempted to view challenges as onerous burdens rather than gifts of grace. However, little prayerful contemplation in the light of Scripture will be required before we realize that to suffer for the Lord Jesus in a fallen world constitutes "I get to" far more than "I have to." Our Heavenly Father honors us to "walk even as Christ walked," and to bear our particular crosses for the fulfillment of His purposes in us, and through us in our sphere of influence. "It is given… to suffer for His sake." We get to.
"And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name."
Weekly Memory Verse
We love Him because He first loved us.
(I John 4:19)