by Pastor Adekoya Akinbode
PARTAKERS OF CHRIST’S SUFFERING AND GLORY!
We continue to be encouraged to see why we should be prepared and learn to go through suffering for Christ’s sake, as believers — Christ suffered for us. It is a glorious privilege to partake of Christ’s suffering, in whatever fashion or dimension it might come, for the untold glory that would be revealed! In other words, we are called not just to partake of His glory, but also, if need be, of His suffering!
However, it is worthy of note and thorough of emphasis that the sufferings the believers are to be prepared for are not necessarily economical but mostly social. In other words, it is not a case of enduring or accepting poverty or financial hardships due to indolence or nonchalant disposition to opportunities at our disposal, plus kingdom strategies to generate wealth. God is not glorified in our financial or economic hardship but He’s aware that for as long as we are in the world, we will suffer hatred, slandering, calumny and, if need be some form of physical abuse! All these, simply because we have renounced the evil works of darkness; no longer influenced by the spirit of this world but the Spirit of God. The world will always want us but God wants us much more. The world will always be seeking to get our attention but God needs us to remain steadfast and immovable in our work of Faith until Christ comes for us or we go to meet Him at the right time.
Peter wants us to have it at the back of our minds that there is the possibility of suffering such things as had been mentioned, for as long as we live in this world. Our hope and courage; our strength to move on unmoved will always lie in the deep understanding of who we are in Christ so as not to feel less even though the world will want to make us feel less. The understanding of what we have in Christ will help us to stay strong in the faith when the world wants to make us feel like we are missing out for not being part of them, taking part in their ungodly ways and acts. Consequently we are to be prepared for anything (like verbal and physical abuse) that may result as we separate ourselves unto God to do His will at all times.
Remember, Jesus said if they called the master beelzebub we shall be called even worse and more unprintable names. (Matthew 10:25) Yet we must grow up and learn to act as Christ and serve as good ambassadors of Christ in this world.
If the world does not hate us; if the world does not reject us; if the world does not persecute us, it simply means that we are yet in the world and of the world! But though we are in this world, we are not of the world: the world, (just as darkness is always an antagonist or against light) will continually be at variance with us for as long as we are in alignment with God. We shall continually be confronted and condemned by the world even though we have conquered and are accepted in the beloved.
God could have taken us up straight to heaven the day we received Christ, but He needs us still here on Earth to serve His own purpose of reaching out but to the lost and, encouraging one another in the Faith. Therefore, the attitude of the world towards us shouldn’t cause distraction nor depression that we neglect or despise the place of charity and hospitality towards one another in the Faith.
We are admonished to exercise the gift, the ability and the grace of God in us, serving as extensions of God’s helping hand to the fellow believers in need. To some, it is speaking words of encouragement, words of life, words of hope, as God’s mouthpiece! Doing this, despite all and through it all, God is glorified through us. In other words, the ability, nature and the grace of God is expressed through us to His praise.
Sometimes as we are growing up in the faith, we tend to think that something is wrong with us or with our spiritual life when we are faced with some trials. We are expected to be honoured but we are despised. We expect acceptance but we are hatefully rejected just because we don’t belong! But Peter is assuring us that whatever we will have to face in this world is nothing new and does not affect our place in God and with God. In other words, our earthly conditions and situations cannot negate or overrule our position in Christ. We should continually draw strength, hope and encouragement knowing that those ahead of us have probably gone through more tense and horrific situations than we are presently going through and may or have to go through. Yet, in all, they maintained their confessions till they breathed their last breath!
Peter encourages us to count it all joy, a privilege and never to be ashamed when we suffer for the sake of Christ and not for the sake of our wrongdoings.
We are presently being judged by the world through their hostility, harassment and inhumanity against us. But a greater judgement awaits the world. More terrible and baleful it will be for those who reject the gospel.
In all that we will have to go through or suffer for the sake of Christ Peter ends this chapter by assuring us of God’s presence in the equation. We are not alone no matter the situation. He keeps our souls in all purity — our sanity is intact no matter the hit of the trials — as we commit it all to Him. This should probably be our most encouraging reality, that God is ever with us!