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Paul talks about suffering as being a gift Philippians 1:29 that accompanies our belief in Christ. To suffer is about apart of our ministry and calling.
"Churches committed to programs can grow numerically, but they don't nurture biblical Christians who understand the implications of belonging to the body of Christ." This is altogether too true of the church today. The church is too concerned with power and growth financially and numerically. Of course one wants the church to grow numerically, if those numbers truly reflect the amount of souls and hearts that are trandformed to Jesus. Growth for the skae of growth is a lie to ourselves and the people around us. If we labor for months and one live is saved for Jesus should we not rejoice for that one the same no matter what the circumstances?
As to the idea of suffering, I think we must see suffering as two fold. We must see the suffering of the unredeemed world different from the suffering of a witness to Christ. As Sarah's comment just below expresses, God does not necessarily want for people to suffer. That is why we are called to do Jesus' minisrty of healing and freeing people from bondage and oppression. But in doing so, the ones who witness to Christ will suffer and be persecuted. As one's suffering is alleviated another may have to endure. Sound familiar? Jesus endured the pain of our transgressions to save us. As disciples of Christ, we may need to endure pain, persecution, and suffering in order to free others from their's.
Thank you so much for this Mr. Fernando. While I'm sure that the suffering and frustration that I've witnessed and experienced as a Christian in the United States in minuscule compared to what you deal with, it's a huge encouragement to hear your opinion on it. It seems like I often get the message that if a person or ministry is suffering, or having technical or financial troubles, then it is because they are doing something wrong and should change the error in their ways in order to be "blessed." I've always felt that this was not true, but it is tiring to hear again and again. So thank you again for this article.
I agree completely with what this article has to say about suffering. Christians are not to avoid or fear suffering. How un-Christlike! If we are truly following Christ we will embrace suffering the way he did, with joy and gladness. For the sake of the lost and the glory of the Father, Jesus became the suffering servant, taking on all sin and pain. As his imitators, we can expect to partake in his suffering, becoming like him in his death, and through that exercise to know the power of his resurrection.
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