– Jide Lawal
Great Grace, Great Suffering
1 Timothy 1
15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.
16 But for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all longsuffering, for an example to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this [Saul], how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem:
14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on your name.
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go your way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will show him what great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
The verses above tell us that Paul, an example of God’s grace, was a chosen vessel, who would “suffer great things” for the sake of the Name of the Lord. One of the manifestations of God’s grace in His life was to prepare and enable him to suffer for the gospel. Suffering was a necessary part of the ministry of Jesus, and the man or the woman who would be used of God must be ready to be a partaker of His sufferings.
“Really? Didn’t Christ suffer, so we wouldn’t need to suffer?”
Colossians 1 (ISV)
24 Now I [Paul] am rejoicing while suffering for you as I complete in my flesh whatever remains of the Messiah’s sufferings on behalf of his body, which is the church.
Jesus suffered and died for all of humanity and has fully paid for our salvation. What does Paul mean by “completing whatever remains of the Messiah’s sufferings”? Jesus’ assignment was to suffer to save humanity, our assignment is to suffer to tell them about His sacrifice. His sufferings for them may be in vain if we shy away from suffering to take the gospel to them. People that Jesus died for may go to hell for the simple reason that we do not want to go through any trouble while witnessing to them.
Modern Christianity seems to be designed to help modern Christians to avoid any sort of sacrifice in blessing others with the gospel. Thus, we tend to preach to those it is easy to preach to, while avoiding preaching to those who actually need it. For example, many believers only preach to those who are already nominal Christians, and avoid preaching to those of other religions or no religion. Most new churches are planted in places that already have so many churches, while avoiding places with no churches. We cannot complete the Great Commission without suffering and sacrifice.
The early Christians didn’t just suffer for the sake of the gospel, they rejoiced while at it!
40 …and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
A desire for greater manifestations of the grace of God is at the same time a desire for greater suffering for the sake of the Body of Christ. I sense in my spirit that in the years ahead we will see greater miracles in manifestation among us, but we will also see outbreaks of suffering and persecution of the Body of Christ as never seen before.
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
2 Corinthians 12
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for you: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
10 Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
His grace is sufficient for us to endure suffering for His sake. Listen to Paul:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, so that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
When we stand before His judgement seat, those who have patiently suffered for His sake will be rewarded. Those who have not will be ashamed.
Continue in grace!