3. Christianity Is about Suffering
If you ever want to clear out a church, preach about suffering. This is not a very popular topic, but it is part of the experience as a believer. Jesus said in John 15:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” (John 15:18-20).
If no one has told you this, let me be the first. When you stand for Jesus, some people may not like you or agree with you. However, standing for Jesus is not done with anger, arrogance, or defiance – it is done with humility and compassion. I have seen images of Christians revolting against something they didn’t like as if they were leading an uprising or a revolution. May I ask, when did you ever see Jesus respond in that manner? Do you remember what happened when they came to arrest Jesus? One of the disciples drew their sword and cut off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest. Here is what Jesus said.
“’Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?’” (Matthew 26:52-54).
In the moment where Jesus was about to face his greatest persecution, when he was going to be whipped, mocked, beaten, and ultimately hung on a cross, he didn’t respond with anger and judgment; it was quite the opposite. In Luke’s account of the story Jesus even healed the ear of the servant. That is true love and compassion in action.
Even when he was hanging on the cross, think about how he responded to the ones who had put him up there; he cried out Father forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). Here is the one who had the power, the right, and the authority to exercise judgment, but instead he responded with mercy. What great strength Jesus showed in that moment of great suffering. You must remember that enduring suffering does not mean you are a pushover, or not a fighter; it means that you understand the greater purpose that God has called you to. Instead of rejecting the hardship, endure it because it is part of the journey.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10).
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