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“For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.”  (Philippians 1:29).

Privilege to suffer? According to whom?

Most of us come to Christ expecting only blessings. After all, we heard the “sales pitch,” didn’t we? “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” And isn’t the very definition of “Gospel” good news?

But is that all? Let’s look at that verse in Philippians again. The text literally says, “It has been gifted to you, on behalf of Christ, both to believe and to suffer.” The word translated “gifted” is the same one as the word “grace.” Charis in the Greek.  So is the gospel good news and bad news at the same time?

Well, in a sense, yes. The gospel is good news of salvation for those who believe. It is the greatest news any time anywhere. Through Jesus Christ we can experience forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal life beyond the grave. That is awesome news. But it doesn’t mean that we are immune from suffering. Jesus said, Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

The early Christians never expected a trouble free life on the way to paradise. They were fully aware that following Christ was a two-sided gift, on the one hand, victory; on the other, vexation. And they fully embraced both aspects of the Gospel.

In fact, the Apostle Peter warned the believers not to be surprised when they faced persecution, “… as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12, 13). So why do we act surprised when we face trials and tribulations? Jesus never said we were only going to have feast and jubilation. He also spoke of trials and tribulation. And He Himself experienced that. So did Paul. So did all 12 Apostles, who all died a martyr’s death, except John, who died in prison on the Island of Patmos.

The fact is that there has never been a time in the history of humanity when followers of Christ have been more severely attacked than now. Christians are suffering under the brutal hands of radical Islam in so many countries. Zealot Hindus are also targeting Christians. Christians in Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, India, etc. have had their houses of worship burned and people have been frequently, brutally assaulted and murdered in the most vicious manners imaginable.

This Sunday we will remember to pray for the Persecuted Church as we continue to study the little book of Philippians. To prepare your heart, I encourage you to visit the following sites and educate yourself about the plight of the suffering church.

Resources:

I have also written in the past about this topic, if you want to check it:

As you pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for their faith, remember the words of the author of Hebrews: “Remember those in prison, as if you were there yourself. Remember also those being mistreated, as if you felt their pain in your own bodies.” (Hebrews 13:3).

Pastor Ivanildo C. Trindade

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