Expectation of Suffering
One of the greatest gifts we can give new believers is the knowledge of what they can expect in the Christian life. After receiving the forgiveness of sins and being made new creations in Jesus Christ, they might expect that life will be wonderful from that point forward. And indeed, it is because we have the Holy Spirit and Christ’s peace and joy within us. However, there is also the potential for suffering.
Christ saved us from sin, not from trouble. All the pain, suffering, hardship, and problems in the world originated in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve’s transgression. From then on, mankind has lived in a fallen environment and in personal bondage to sin. Christ set us free from the guilt and penalty of our wrongdoing, but He has not exempted us from the pain and trouble that is common to man.
In fact, once we believe in Christ, an additional area of trouble becomes possible in our life: suffering for Christ’s sake. We’d like to think that everyone around us will be just as excited about Jesus’ offer of salvation as we are. But in reality, there are many opponents to the gospel. At times family members may disparage or reject us and people at work make fun of us. In some areas of the world, believers suffer physical and even fatal persecution.
So what are we to do, and how are we to behave? When the world stands against us, we desperately need the fellowship and encouragement of the church. Together, we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel, stand firm in one spirit, and strive together for the faith.
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