Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
We all suffer in one way or another. Yes, I know. This is a Christian blog. I'm supposed to write about our victory and how Jesus has made everything right. There's no more suffering, is there?
To say that would be to tell a lie about the very nature of the world. We all suffer. Our Epistle reading, from 1 Peter 3:17-22, describes how God in Christ redeems that suffering.
Peter tells us it is better to suffer due to good than due to evil. If I do evil, then I suffer because of it, I get to spend the time of suffering blaming myself. I got what I deserved.
Christ, on the other hand, suffered due to evil, but not his own evil. His suffering was brought on by our sin. This throws a whole new light on the suffering. It shows it as something to be endured for the good of someone else. When we suffer for doing good, we are suffering as a result of other people's evil. It is a deeply Christlike thing to do.
Am I saying that Christians should deliberately place themselves in danger and try to provoke suffering at the hands of others? Possibly, but it depends on the nature of the suffering.
Some of our suffering is relatively light, but very common. Do we face criticism in our work due to other people's hang-ups? Do we return home from work exhausted or sore? Do we go out of our way to help others? These are small, common, and godly types of suffering. We don't want to brag, and we will certainly endure ridicule if we tell people our stiff neck from working in front of the computer screen all day is martyrdom for Christ. Yet we are doing well when we lay down our lives for others, doing the thins our neighbors need.
Jesus laid his life down, in a radical way, which killed him. He did it for the sins of the world. If we suffer, in small orgreat ways, may it be in the service of Jesus, not of ourselves.
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