We left off last week with a note about the suffering we are bound to endure if we indeed walk and talk as children of the living God. This paragraph builds on that, opening with one of the most encouraging declarations in Scripture. Romans 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. There will be suffering because the world hates us and we must be on guard that we do not fall into a trap set by the enemy. Peter wrote that we should live in such that our conscience is pure, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:16-17) Jesus told us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves when dealing with the world (Matt 10:16). Here’s how not to follow this instruction:
When I worked for Compaq Computer, they celebrated “Gay Pride Week” every year. During one such week, a fella in one location made a poster with Leviticus 20:13 on it - If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them. Some people complained that they were uncomfortable and his boss told him to take down the poster. He refused and was fired. He appealed to the EEOC and they ruled against him, saying he had contributed to a hostile work environment. Christians that I worked with were outraged at this report and asked me if I was. I told them I was sad that a brother was so dumb. Our message for the world is the gospel, not the law. We cannot bring a sinner into the kingdom by the law, but YHWH has given us the gospel for that very purpose. The Holy Spirit will convict His people of their sins and grant them repentance. If we suffer for the cause of Christ, let it be on account of us being unashamed of the gospel.
There’s another type of suffering that is common to all folks. Some people think life is hell, or some particular trial is hell. You hear people talk like that all the time. Business meetings are hell! These statements tell me those so speaking know nothing about hell. All of these things – and lots that are worse – are normal suffering that are the product of the Fall.