“I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself.” Phil. 3:10
One of the key characteristics of a dangerous church-one that poses a threat to the kingdom of darkness is that its members suffer for it. At the very center of what it means to be a follower of Christ is the inevitability of suffering for His name’s sake. Jesus was clear to his disciples that the world would not feel any better about them than they felt about Him. He warned them that they would suffer for the authentic expression of their faith. He told them to personally embrace the cross on a daily basis. Anyway you look at it, the cross means pain.
I have experienced suffering. Granted, some of it has been because of my own stupid choices (Ok, a lot of it!). But other times I have endured through very difficult seasons for no other reason than my heart to obey and follow the teachings of Jesus. Let there be no mistake, the road to becoming like Christ has many challenging moments. These times must be met with resolve to honor Christ, or we will become discouraged or even bitter about our hardship.
Paul once said, “I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am completing what remains of Christ's sufferings for his body, the church.” Col. 1:24
He realized that the Kingdom of God moves forward against much opposition. The powers of darkness have many resources available to push back against the unstoppable force of the church. It is through “much tribulation” that the church of Jesus takes ground for the Kingdom of God. It may be a wife who endures in a difficult marriage or a man who suffers at the hands of cruel coworkers or a student that is ridiculed by fellow students for his faith. Sometimes we endure through stressful seasons in our private life all the while continuing to volunteer service in our church. We could go on and on.
Simply put, as Jesus’ followers we must be prepared to suffer if we truly intend to advance the Kingdom of God. We must not be surprised and remember that God gives special reward and honor to those who willingly endure underneath it.
"Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad—because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world." I Pet. 4:12-13