We return to 2 Tim 2:3 where Paul writes, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
Being a Christian necessarily entails embracing suffering or persecution.
In today’s world we have plenty of preachers and Christians alike who only embrace all the benefits Christ brings but reject God’s gracious invitation to participate in the sufferings of Christ.
While it is true that Christ’s death and resurrection brings us a lot of benefits – and I would readily admit God has been very good to me – it is equally true that being a Christian entails some form of suffering.
Now, I am not talking about self-mutilation or self-inflicted pain to try to impress God or for our prayers to be answered. No, embracing suffering cannot earn us any righteousness before God. We must recognize righteousness is simply a gift from God received through faith.
Why then must we embrace suffering?
The simplest – and yet most profound answer – is simply because that is what Jesus, our commanding officer, did. In John 15:20 Jesus said, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
All of us who have undergone military training know how tough it is to be a good soldier. We train from morning to night, often retiring into the night with muscle sores and aches. But that training is for a purpose. We train hard so that we are fully prepared for the day of battle.
Whether we like it or not, there is an ongoing spiritual battle and as soldiers of Jesus Christ, there will come severe times of trials and tribulations. Let us set our hearts aright from this day forth to live purposefully and doggedly to please only Christ our commanding officer.
Questions for Reflection:
How ready are you to suffer as a good soldier for Christ? What are some circumstances you would dread to find yourself in?