Sunday, July 29, 2007

Suffering for Christ

Verses I wish weren't in the Bible: Phil 1:29

“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ…to suffer for him.” (Phil 1:29)

I don't like this verse for two reasons. First, it tells me suffering for Christ isn't just a good thing, it's a blessing. I don't like suffering. I can live with the notion that suffering is good for me, but if it is a blessing, shouldn't I want it? I don't.

Now, I don’t think this is saying to seek out suffering, just that when it comes, I should recognize it for what it is. There was a time when people would actually go up to a Roman official and say, “I’m a Christian, and I want to die!” I’m not sure how different that is from suicide.

The second reason I don't like it is this: What does it mean if I'm not suffering? J. Vernon McGee said, “When you get to the place where He lets you suffer for Him, you have arrived—that is the high calling of Christ Jesus.” Does my lack of suffering mean Christ thinks I'd embarrass Him? Could I not withstand the test?

You might argue that people don't suffer for Christ in the US. It's true they don't generally suffer unto death, but you can suffer. I know a woman who lost a job because she "disturbed the environment" in the workplace – not by being annoying but just by being there. Why isn't my Christianity disruptive enough to make people uncomfortable? Why isn’t my life just a little harder than for my non-Christian coworkers and neighbors?

This verse makes me wonder why I’m not suffering. I really wish it weren’t in the Bible.

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