I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24).
There are two kinds of suffering mentioned in the New Testament. First there is the substitutionary suffering of Jesus on Calvary as He became our sin and sickness and defeated Satan for us. Because Jesus took our place, we need not remain in sin or sickness, for Jesus bore them both for us. We are freed from the penalty of sin, and healing is made available to us by faith in Jesus’ sacrifice. And we have been freed from this kind of suffering.
The second kind of suffering is circumstantial suffering. Though Jesus went through tough circumstances, we are not immune from suffering for the cause of Christ. This kind of suffering stems from the persecution that we endure for our godly stand and lifestyle.
Paul told the young minister Timothy: Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). Again, he is not referring here to suffering with sickness, disease, accidents, and poverty, but with persecution from others because of a relentless, unwavering stand for Jesus.
In Philippians 3:10 Paul mentions the fellowship of His sufferings (circumstantial sufferings) in the context of having personal intimacy with Jesus. In Acts 5:41, the early Apostles went from the presence of the council rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. In 1 Peter 4:16 we read, Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
Jesus mentions a special blessing on those who are persecuted for knowing Him in Matthew 5: 10-12, Blessed are you when they revile and 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 so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Our easy, feel good, entertain me, please me, accept me culture cuts across the grain of the attitude the New Testament portrays for a committed, godly believer. Those who have been snatched from the fires of hell by the blood of Jesus and His sacrifice should be glad to suffer shame for His name!
As the spirit of antiChrist increases worldwide, you’ll receive from the world less and less compliments for your walk with God, and more hostility and rejection. Endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. So the next time you’re ridiculed in the office, the classroom, or some social setting, claim the promises of God! GREAT is your reward in heaven!