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Should Christians Suffer

Should Christians suffer?

This has been a hard question for me to answer. Not that God does not give us an answer in the Bible. He does.  But, as an American, I know that I suffer very little for the cause of Christ. I notice that you are from Zimbabwe. From what I know about your country, there is much suffering there. I do not feel worthy to answer such a question. However, for the sake of giving a Bible answer that might help, I will try.

You ask if Christians "should" suffer. I find your wording interesting.  Most Christians I know would ask if they "must" suffer. Perhaps that is what you meant, but perhaps you have greater insight into the call for Christians to suffer than others do. Here are some thoughts that might help.

  1. I think all Christians would agree that they "should" live godly. We are commanded to exercise ourselves "unto godliness" (1 Timothy 4:7). But if we live godly lives, the Bible says that we will suffer persecution.  Paul clearly states, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). This is not something that might happen. It is something that will happen IF we live godly.
  2. The Bible also teaches that those who suffer wrongfully for
    conscience toward God are following in the steps of Jesus. 1 Peter 2:19-21 says, "For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps." Verse 21 states that we are called to follow the example of Christ and suffer.  This is a powerful teaching in scripture.
  3. In addition, suffering for the sake of Christ is something we should be thankful for, even glory in. Paul told the Philippians, "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Philippians 1:29). He was telling them that not only did they have the honor of believing in Jesus, they also had the higher honor of suffering for His sake. We see this spirit in the attitude of the early apostles. They were commanded not to speak in the name of Jesus and were beaten because of their witness (Acts 5:40). Then, we read in the next verse, "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name" (Acts 5:41). They rejoiced that God had thought them worthy to suffer for the name of Christ.
  4. Scripture also teaches that the sufferings of this life will be more than rewarded by the blessings of the next life. Paul states in Romans 8:18, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." In 2 Corinthians 4:17, he says, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory."  Any godly suffering will be more than outweighed by the glories of eternity.

So, should Christians suffer? The Bible answer is yes. That is, if they will live godly; if they will follow the example given to them by Christ; if they will accept one of the highest honors given to believers in this life; and, if they are to receive the highest glories in eternity. This subject is, in many ways, holy ground. Western Christianity has lost much in this area. May we learn from those who are seriously suffering for Christ in this day and age.