Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Side Effects of Suffering-Identifying With Christ by Martin Wiles

Series: The Side Effects of Suffering

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in The Cost of Discipleship, said, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” And he did.

Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and theologian who resisted Nazi dictatorship, opposed Hitler’s euthanasia program and his persecution of the Jewish people, and even joined the German Military Intelligence Office in their plans to assassinate Hitler. The Gestapo arrested him in April of 1943 and hung him two years later, just 23 days before Hitler surrendered. Bonhoeffer stood for his faith, suffered for his faith, and ultimately died for his faith.

No one enjoys suffering, but it does put us in good company. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering (I Peter 4:13 NLT).

Jesus’ suffering began soon after his birth when Herod attempted to murder him for fear he would eventually wrestle the kingdom from his control and extended to the very end when the religious leaders eventually persuaded Pilate to kill him for fear he would lead a rebellion against Rome. Add to this the in between episodes when he was criticized, misunderstood by friends and family, and followed for the wrong reasons, and his entire life was one long stream of anguish.

Jesus says his followers will suffer as he did (John 15:20). When we walk in his shoes by exposing evil, by uncovering injustice, by confronting hatred and unforgiveness, and by shining the light of righteousness of all forms of sin, we’ll suffer. Even if we don’t die physically as Jesus and Bonhoeffer did, we may experience deaths of friendships, relationships, finances, and even employment because we were willing to identify with Christ. But in the midst of the pain, be glad. You’re partnered with Christ and will enjoy rich eternal rewards for your stand.

Prayer: Merciful Lord, who suffered so much for us, give us strength to stand for You even when it means we will be maligned, misunderstood and persecuted.

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