Thursday, May 09, 2019

Suffering For The Kingdom

The American Church has little or no understanding about suffering. In fact, the Christian movement in America is so sheltered from persecution that there is a developmental complacency within the Church. The sense of urgency and commitment to the Word of God has faded into a voluntary response. The assault against Christians has taken on varying degrees of intensity which is determined by the location of the Believers. In certain parts of the world, the followers of Jesus are severely persecuted and even killed because of their faith. The amazing thing is that those who are being attacked continue to worship and serve their Savior and Lord. On the other hand, the American Church continues to bask in the comfort of their air conditioned buildings, seeking to impress God by their attendance. Any persecution they experience is usually from other Christians who have no real understanding of Kingdom principles. Gossiping, backbiting, jealousy, and murmuring continue to tear at the very fabric of the Christian faith. People bring about division through verbal attacks against any individuals, including pastors, which conflict with their personal agendas or beliefs. Satan has not, as yet, brought outside persecution against the American Church because Christians are doing his job for him.
In Peter's first letter, which was addressed to the believers in Asia Minor, he mentions the word suffer, or a form of the word, sixteen times. He is not talking about sufferings as a result of illness, sickness, etc., but physical impressions brought about by expressing one's faith. One of the reasons the "western churches" have not experienced physical persecution is because of their lack of promoting the Gospel. There is a promotion of local church, but so little promotion of Jesus outside of the church. We try to get people in our buildings, but fail to get the people to the "cornerstone" of our faith. Satan loves to corral Believers into confined spaces, instead of having them spread out through communities. Satan wants to keep Christians busy with self-interests, instead of being concerned with those outside of the faith. The sufferings that confessing Believers experience will bring about a witness of our love for God. The Word teaches us to not be ashamed when we are buffeted for our witness and life style, for by it we are glorifying God. (I Peter 4:16) We are to commit ourselves to Him during the challenging times. (I Peter 4:19) We are to take persecutions patiently, for that is acceptable with God. (I Peter 2:20) Sufferings will make us perfect (complete) and will stablish, strengthen, and settle the Believer. (I Peter 5:10) The Christian is not to retaliate, either verbally or physically. (I Peter 2:23) Jesus suffered for us as a motivating example. (I Peter 2:21)
When Jesus suffered on the cross He set an example for us to follow, and that was to crucify our fleshly desires. It is not an easy task to rid ourselves of our sinful tendencies, but through determination, which involves suffering, we can experience a life free from the consciousness of sin. (I Peter 4:1) When we achieve that victory we will live the rest of our earthly life in "the will of God." (I Peter 4:2) To understand this is to solidify our standing as true Believers. Let us soak these verses until the rivers of living water flood our being!

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