07 Feb Suffering for Righteousness
Originally posted on August 20, 2003
The internet allows us to take what once was an in-house discussion and open it up to anyone who cares to log on and read. Here at Grace Community Church we usually have these discussions in the form of sermons, classes, small groups, and church meetings. At these times, we try to keep the values of the Bible before us and ask how our lives are to conform to these values.
If you are entering “the house” via this web site, we welcome you and invite you to listen in on some thoughts on our current discussion topic, suffering.
Here at Grace, we have been discussing suffering for righteousness from the Apostle Peter’s letter to scattered Christians in Asia Minor in the first century. This letter is included in the New Testament of the Bible. If you take time to read it, you’ll find some counter cultural ideas on suffering. Here are a few.
1. Suffering for doing what is right finds favor with God. The “doing right” Peter refers to in his letter is living with love and loyalty to Christ, reflected in a lifestyle of morality and witness to the grace of God. Doing right and having the conviction to suffer for it pleases God who loves us more than we can comprehend.
2. Suffering for doing what is right is our calling as Christians. Christ suffered while on earth and Peter says we are called for this purpose as well. By suffering for righteousness, we follow in His steps.
3. Suffer for doing what is right actually has positive purpose. We bring glory to God by revealing His power to change us and steady us in suffering. We give a testimony to the world that Jesus is Lord. Our own faith is purified through the fires of suffering as we are brought to greater trust in the Lord.
4. Ultimate issues become ultimate again when faced with suffering for doing what is right. One of the ways Peter comforted the first century Christians who were persecuted for their faith was to remind them that Christ died for their sins, saved them by faith, and that they were to entrust their souls to Him. With houses gone, separated from families, reputations shattered, and the body in chains, what is left that really matters? The soul. Christ saves the soul!
Here I sit in Nashville and in relative comfort as a Christian. I am not imposing guilt on myself or anyone else for practicing my faith in a free society; neither am I assuming that suffering for doing what is right is not happening in other parts of the world, or that it will not happen in my city in the future. Just today I received an email from a South Asian country reporting on the arrest and imprisonment of 12 Christian leaders for no other reason than the open practice of their faith in Christ and work in the church. We can regularly read in our own newspapers of the intolerance of the biblical understanding of life and morality. Peter’s words on suffering for doing what is right are as relevant today as they were in his day. Knowing and obeying his message will be our peace on earth and our joy in heaven as we faithfully bear the reproach of Christ.
Scott Patty, Pastor