“But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1Peter 4:11-19).
Suffering often brings confusion, but also brings a greater perspective on life. The Church was doing it tough. Peter wrote, “…don’t be surprised…”
Reading Acts, one may get the impression that the Church was the best thing that happened to the world. And it was. “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46, 47)
In a short time though, all that changed…and the Church started to experience persecution, ridicule, and rejection.
Again, no surprise here: the Church was born of suffering; it came about at a costly price: God gave His only Son; Jesus suffered and died on the cross; His followers, the Church, were called to follow in His steps.
Participation/sharing in the sufferings of Christ was not Peter’s original idea – it was the Holy Spirit’s idea.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17).
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death…” (Phlp 3:10).
“I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus…” (Revelation 1:9).
Jesus’ death, sacrifice and suffering stand as unique acts that brought us salvation. We share in Christ’s suffering because the Church was “born” out of His death, sacrifice and suffering. Rejoice!