November 9, 2016

Sharing in His Suffering

This morning I read a chapter in John Eldredge’s book “Moving Mountains.” He talked about the value of total openness with God in our prayers. His examples were David’s laments in the Psalms as well as his spontaneous words of praise. This is being transparent in conversation with God.

Today’s devotional reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” adds to that thought by linking transparency to my relationship with Christ and how that is important in my witness to others. It begins with words from this passage . . .

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. (Colossians 1:24–26)

In our identification with Jesus Christ what He suffered in His body is shared by His body the church. That is, He was mocked and rejected; we are mocked and rejected. He was beaten and put to death; some of us are beaten and put to death. He was beloved by many and we too share relationships of deep love and caring.

This bond with God to live our lives as Christ lived His is a mystery once hidden but now revealed — just as the Word of God was a mystery hidden for a long time, but is now revealed to those who believe in and belong to Him.

Chambers says that not only do we suffer with Him, we also are vessels through which God is “creating life” because the reality of Jesus comes through our lives into the lives of others. By sharing His life and death and resurrection, God uses us to create a deeper relationship with God in those who listen to us.

Of course I cannot create the new birth or regeneration that is essential for those who walk with God through faith. But I can be a vessel He uses to pour out His grace, blessing, revelation, and whatever is needed to speak and change those who already have His life. I can also “be Jesus” for those who do not know of Him through any other means.

Wisely, Chambers also warns against the praise of people. We easily glory in those who are God-gifted by praising their personality or skills or insights — as if they come from the person instead of from Jesus. I am to lift up the Lord and glorify Him, not the bodies through which He speaks. This includes my own life. If someone sees Jesus in me, it is not my doing, but His marvelous grace.

Perhaps that is one reason we must also share in His suffering. It brings each of us down to earth in the sense that we understand how sharing the fullness of Jesus Christ means both glory and suffering. Yes, He lives for me, but He also died for me. I am His to use in the revealing of His glory to others, but also in the revealing of His agony and sorrow.

Yesterday the Lord showed me I am a temple for the Holy Spirit that He uses for prayer. Today He brings me down to earth with the reality that I am also part of His body through which He suffers.

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