Share Christ's Sufferings

 Theme Text 'We share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory' Romans 8:17.

We saw that when we run the gospel race, we prove our faith in God, and fulfill our priestly duty to attain holiness. All those things constitute the multi-fold purpose for which God asks us to run the gospel race. Let us look at another important objective of the gospel race here.

Paul writes - Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:17.
That sounds fair. Only if we participate in the sufferings of Christ would we get a share in his glory. What kind of sufferings did Jesus face? Did Jesus suffer because of sin inside him? - Not at all. He was in a perfect body. He didn’t struggle against genetically sinful flesh (like we do).
So what did he suffer for? - For the sake of the truth. For proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom (Luke 4:43). He was also killed for it. So when we suffer for the same, we share in his sufferings.

  • Paul confirms - I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings 1Cor 9:23. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. 2Tim 2:8-12.
  • Peter declares - Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 1Peter 4:12-13.

Some theorize that suffering for the gospel was only for Apostles like Paul and Peter. Is that correct?
Well, Paul quashes any such theories. He tells us plainly –
“For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have” - Philippians 1:29-30.
Yes, it has been granted to us to suffer for the sake of the gospel like Christ and his Apostles.

If there are rewards for sharing Christ’s sufferings, how would they be allotted to each of us?
Well, Jesus suffered the most. So he gets the highest reward – being King of kings. Authority under Jesus Christ in the Kingdom would be distributed based on the gospel work we did with our God-given talents in this present life, measured by our field of work. Paul explains –
‘When they measure themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. We will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. We are not going too far in our boasting, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man's territory. But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.’ 2Cor 10:12-18.

Jesus shows this beautifully in the Parable of the Talents. He compares himself to a nobleman –
"A man of noble birth went to a distant country [heaven] to have himself appointed king and then to return… He was made king, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given money, in order to find out what they had gained with it. "The first one came and said, `Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' “`Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. `Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' "The second came and said, `Sir, your mina has earned five more.' "His master answered, `You take charge of five cities.'” Luke 19:12-19.

  • Yes, before ascending to heaven, Jesus has given us the truth and gifted us with talents that could be used in proclaiming that truth. When he returns in his Kingdom, he would assign authority to his followers based on the gospel work they did for him during their lives.
  • His promise to delegate authority is clear and concise - ‘To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I [Jesus] will give authority over the nations — that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ —just as I have received authority from my Father.’ Rev 2:26-27.

Let us dig deeper into more of the things we achieve when we run the gospel race. Read Next: Doing Good & Preaching Truth.

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