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Paul: Chosen to Suffer

Jun 13, 2021
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Paul: Chosen to Suffer
It may seem that everything within us resists the idea of suffering. We are immersed in a culture that values self-centeredness, risk management, and pain avoidance. Yet, when we examine the life of Paul, we notice his calling, “But the Lord said to [Ananias], ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.'” (Acts 9:15-16)
Questions arise as we read of the radical transformation of a man who hated Christ and killed His followers to an Apostle who would die daily to himself to carry out Jesus’ mission. What is the role of suffering for anyone who would follow Christ? Is suffering a normal part of the Christian life?
Suffering was not a punishment for Paul’s prior life against the Church. Paul’s sufferings are the direct result of the kind of life he chose to live. The Apostle valued something infinitely greater than personal safety, comfort, and security. Through the inspiration of the Spirit of God, Paul commended and commanded all Christians to follow his example.
Life in Christ is incompatible with the American obsession of self-protection. What if we embraced a self-forgetfulness that put others before ourselves? What if we took risks to bring the good news of Christ into places and to people who may not be “safe?” Just as we are ambassadors for the message of Christ, we are also physical examples to the world of the suffering of our Lord. How can we tell people that Jesus suffered greatly for us and strive ourselves to eliminate every possibility of hardship, persecution, and discomfort?
What if God wants you to share in suffering with Jesus?
What if God wants us to climb down the corporate ladder?
What if our battles against the infringements upon our rights are destroying the witness of the Church?
What if God wants you to practice radical hospitality that welcomes a homeless person, a single mother, an orphan, or a foster child into your family?
What if God wants us to live with so much generosity that it is painful in the present and a threat to our future financial security?
Paul rejoiced in his suffering for Christ. Embracing suffering unlocks radical transformation for us today. May we joyfully surrender to His call.
To Discuss Today:
1. What are some reasons that every Christ follower should expect and embrace suffering?
2. Is your life better defined by self-protection and comfort or self-emptying and pain-willingness?
3. What aspect of your life does God want you to commit to intense prayer and fasting this week?