© COPYRIGHT Connie Giordano - All Rights Reserved|
The Part Of Christianity
Most People Want To Ignore
As we read through the Bible, we cannot help but come across such words and phrases as -
"always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus"(2 Corinthians 4:10)
"always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake"(2 Corinthians 4:11)
"as the sufferings of Christ abound in us"(2 Corinthians 1:5)
"the sentence of death"(2 Corinthians 1:9)
"if so be that we suffer with Him"(Romans 8:17)
"the sufferings of this present time"(Romans 8:18)
"bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus"(Galatians 6:17)
"partakers of Christ's sufferings"(1 Peter 4:13)
"the fellowship of His sufferings"(Philippians 3:10)
"being made conformable unto His death"(Philippians 3:10)
"I die daily"(1 Corinthians 15:31)
"If we suffer"(2 Timothy 2:12)
"we are killed all the day long"(Romans 8:36)
"we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter"(Romans 8:36)
"death worketh in us"(2 Corinthians 4:12)
"pressed out of measure, above strength...despaired...of life"(2 Corinthians 1:8)
"dead with Him"(2 Timothy 2:11)
The early Christians - like the Apostle Paul - were Christ-bearers. They were called this because they were constantly exposed to death for His Name's sake. They continually expected to lay down their lives - just like He did.
They were continually - yes, continually - exposed to death - being perpetually in its dreadful jaws. They endured hardships, privations, opposition, contempt, trials, and want on His account.
They looked on themselves as dead men - expecting certainly to die - having no hope of escape.
For righteousness' sake, they willingly suffered with Him. They were ready to bear the Cross through life - imitating Him in all kinds of sufferings. They encountered afflictions of all kinds and in all places.
They even bore scars and wounds which served as brands identifying them with Christ. Brands were set upon soldiers, captives, and slaves in order to mark their owners. These Christians bore the marks on their bodies from the scourgings and torture to show their attachment to Jesus. They counted it an honor to be "partakers of His sufferings" - to suffer as He did in the flesh. In all things, they desired to be identified with Him.
They willingly suffered shame and reproach...the loss of credit and reputation...the loss of goods...corporeal punishment...and even death - in order to find life in Him. They found no intermission to danger or to the exposure to death. "All day long" they were liable to death and regarded as "sheep" who are counted as being more valuable when dead than alive.
They lived dying lives so that they could be conformed to the image of their Master. This meant their death to this world - its pleasures, profits, and honors. At times their trials reduced them to the emotional state of feeling weighed down to the "max." They were stretched beyond their own strength - with no possible way of escape - as far as human help is concerned.
After reading this account of the Christians in the early days, what does this say about the present-day bunch who are afraid to tell their neighbor about Jesus lest he "cuss them out" or slam the door in their face? What kind of suffering for Christ's sake is going on today - especially in America? Just how many saints of God are wearing wounds or scars in their bodies as "marks" to identify themselves with Christ?
Let's lay aside contempt, ridicule, persecution, and even martyrdom for a minute. How many are at least living a life of self-denial - a holy life...a life where they are subduing their fleshly affections on a daily basis...are zealous for the cause of Truth...and are striving to imitate the Lord Jesus in all areas of their life?
Sad but true - there are very few who are really living for God today. It is almost as though this part of Christianity has been swept "under the rug" - to be forever avoided or ignored.
But how can anyone say that they are identified with Christ and yet never suffer persecution or hardship for His name's sake?
In Matthew 16:24, the Lord Jesus said - "...If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
In John 12:25, He said this - "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."
In Acts 14:22, the Apostle Luke wrote - "Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. "
In Philippians 1:29, the Apostle Paul wrote - "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake."
At the moment of salvation, did anyone ever tell you that you can't be raised to eternal life until you die...you won't gain until you lose...and you definitely won't reign in heaven with Jesus until you suffer with Him in this life?
That is the Gospel.
You cannot follow a Suffering Savior and never suffer. The Bible is not talking about suffering a sickness or disease either - as some teach. That is not the "cross" that Jesus was talking about.
No, the "cross" that Jesus has for you to carry is the one that goes against your will in doing things and "kills" the flesh and its affections and lusts.
"I die daily."
Can you say that?
May God Bless His Word.