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Have we armed ourselves with the willingness to suffer¬ó to the same extent that Christ suffered for us when He was on earth?
I am well aware that the idea of embracing suffering does not fit our 21st-century concept of following and serving Christ. Yet the Bible teaches that suffering for Him is our privilege: ¬ďFor to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake¬Ē (Philippians 1:29).
Does that mean we all should seek out beatings and martyrdom? No, that¬ís not what it means. The Lord wants us to arm ourselves with a mind to suffer just as He did, so the Enemy has nothing to work with to get us out of the battle.
Jesus¬í life is our model in this area: ¬ďChrist also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps¬Ē (1 Peter 2:21). Christ did not suffer just during His three years of public ministry or the last few days of His life when He was crucified. He suffered throughout His life on earth. He who was without sin lived daily with the corruption and sinfulness of lost humanity.
His own family members said He had gone mentally insane. The religious community misunderstood Him and called Him a demon-possessed man. His disciples didn¬ít understand Him. From birth to the cross, His life was full of pain, loneliness and constant misunderstanding. He is called a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
In the midst of it all, He chose to suffer in the flesh by saying no to Himself. He never fought for Himself or attacked anyone to defend His rights. And in the end, Jesus was able to say, ¬ďNot My will, but Thine,¬Ē embracing the cross to fulfill His Father¬ís will.
But what was the reason for Christ¬ís suffering and death? It was to redeem mankind. And so it is with us. We can only become agents of redemption if we are willing to embrace suffering in the flesh¬óchoosing to deny self and accepting death to our own desires.