By Pastor Scott Osenbaugh, The Healing Place
(Nashville Assembly of God)
As Christians, must we suffer? At the risk of sounding a little cavalier, let me respond with, “Why shouldn’t we suffer?” There’s nothing about being a Christian that gives an automatic free pass from pain and bad stuff in this world. Jesus made it very clear that as long as Christians were in this world, they would experience tribulation, another way of saying “suffering” (see John 16:33). Being a child of God is not a case for exemption from having first hand experience of times of suffering.
Here’s the rub, though. Far too many Americans sitting in comfy pews in air-conditioned churches think they are suffering if the pastor’s sermon goes a little long and they have to sit in a service for longer than an hour. They see suffering as not getting a parking spot close to the front door of the church. They think they are suffering whenever they put any offering into the collection plate, convinced they will not be able to make ends meet this month because of that five bucks they contributed. It’s unfortunate how the idea of suffering in American, Western Christianity is more about personal inconvenience than it is about actually experiencing persecution and loss for having stood up for the faith.
The recent execution by beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians was horrific. Those believers suffered for their faith. Its would be interesting to see how many in any church service, if threatened by militants with death, would suddenly decide they really didn’t mean that “Jesus stuff” after all, hoping to escape with their lives and thinking they could always ask forgiveness later. They probably aren’t familiar with Jesus’ words about denying Him means He will deny that person to the Father.
Suffering for the faith is something Jesus promised would happen, and with that promise comes the encouragement that He has overcome the world, so whatever mortal man tries to do, nothing can take away the salvation brought through Christ. I’m no alarmist, but there’s little doubt in my mind that even here in America, true Christians are going to wind up suffering — physical, painful suffering — for maintaining a true faith in Jesus Christ, and I believe that time may be sooner than later. We cannot think that just because we attend a local church that we are somehow automatically shielded from ever having to suffer for the faith. The Body of Christ becomes stronger during times of suffering and persecution, for it is in those times there must be full reliance on Jesus and on Him alone. Nothing will sharpen the edge of one’s faith like having to endure suffering for the choice to be a believer in Jesus Christ. If the world stage continues to play out as it is, there will be the blood of Christian martyrs spilled on American dirt.
But, if Jesus was willing to suffer on a cross for you, why wouldn’t you be willing to suffer for Him?
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