The Suffering of Christians: Should True Believers Experience a Trouble-Free Life?
Once a person becomes a Christian by trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation and eternal life, would he or she experience less suffering in the world?
Answer: Being a Christian will bring more suffering of one kind, and less suffering of another kind into our lives. What it will not bring is no suffering.
The kind of suffering that a Christian will not experience (or experience less of) is the suffering that is the result of living a lifestyle of sin. For example, if we obey the Bible's commandment to love others as we love ourselves, we will not commit crimes that would send us to jail, such as stealing, kidnap, rape, and murder. If we heed God's Word to stay away from adultery, fornication, and other sexual sins, we would avoid unwanted pregnancies, STDs, a soiled reputation, and hurt feelings.
Ultimately and most importantly, true Christians will avoid the ultimate punishment and suffering: an eternal guilty verdict from Yahweh God on Judgment Day. Those who refuse to accept Jesus as their only Savior will be sentenced to eternal death, never to be resurrected again.
The kind of suffering that a Christian will experience is the suffering for Jesus' name and for living according to God's will.
Jesus said, "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, since I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18-19, WEB)
During his earthly ministry, Jesus was heavily persecuted because he openly exposed and rebuked the hypocrisy and evil deeds of the religiously self-righteous. It was for this reason that he was falsely accused and convicted during an illegal trial held in the wee hours of the morning, and then was wrongly executed hours later (little did his murderers know that Jesus' death was actually a God-purposed sacrifice that would open the door to eternal life for those who believed in him).
If we whole-heartedly follow Jesus our Lord by teaching the righteousness he taught and correcting people's sins, it's no surprise if we would be persecuted the same way. In actuality, if we have never experienced persecution as a Christian, then we must wonder: are we really living up to our title as a Christian? When our culture conflicts with God's principles, do we live by our cultural standards or God's? When our spouses, parents, friends, and co-workers tell us to do something that is against God's commandments, whom do we obey? If our allegiance is to principles and laws that conflict with God's, then we will certainly be loved and viewed as successful by the world's standards, all the while not realizing that we are actually people most miserable in the sight of God.
If we want to be true Christians--people who are Christians by their deeds, not merely their words--we are guaranteed to suffer for righteousness' sake, because when we, as the light of the world, expose the works done in darkness, those who work in the dark will hate us, "for everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God." (John 3:20-21)
To sum it up: True Christians will experience innocent suffering for Jesus' name. This is to be expected. If Christians don't experience persecution, then there's something wrong. Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people reproach you, 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 that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12)
So, if you're a Christian, "don't be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you, to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. But because you are partakers of Christ's sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory you also may rejoice with exceeding joy. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed; because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you." (1 Peter 4:12-14)
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