In 1 Peter 4:12-19, Peter writes that as we are living out our faith we need to be prepared to experience suffering. It is one of the things that we don’t like about our faith, at the same time, it is one of the parts that grows us. My pastor describes the Christian walk as boarding a battleship not a cruise ship. We must be ready for battle, wearing our armor, covered in prayer. He reminds us that this is part of our faith walk, just as it was part of Jesus’ life. By choosing to follow Christ, it means we are also choosing to suffer as Christ.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you (v. 12-14).
The sufferings we experience may be at school, the work place, or in our community. When we frame them as the reality of our faith then we can remember it is like the purifying fires refining the gold and the silver. Revealing the Christ within us to the world. The other side to this perspective is that when we grow weary, we are to not quit. If we stop living for Christ just because it became difficult for a season, then why would someone else want to enter into a relationship with Him?
Walking with Jesus is much like my favorite sport, football. When we are on the field we are to leave it all on the field, playing until the whistle blows. When we are waiting for our Coach to put us in play we are to be ready, warmed up, and paying attention to the action on the field. The only difference is that in the end the goal is not a trophy, but a crown.
Following Jesus isn’t for those who want the cruise ship life. Accepting Christ’s offer of salvation is not for the “fire protection,” it’s understanding we are choosing to be part of an epic battle for the eternal souls of everyone around us. Therefore we can either be a spectator or a participant, there is no other role to play. There is no credit for showing up in our jerseys and just being a bench warmer. We must be ready and willing to enter the game.
In Acts 5:33-41 the Apostles were arrested for preaching Christ and were flogged before being released. Instead of feeling like they were picked on as believers, the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name (v. 41). They rejoiced. Romans 8:17 states the goal of why we choose to follow, knowing there will be suffering. Now if we are children,-then we are heirs of God and co-heirs of Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.
Dear Ones, I don’t know what your walk has been like recently, I only know mine. What I do know is that when the Lord calls me home to Heaven, I want to make sure that I have left it all on the field. I pray that your faith will be strengthened and that you will too.