Suffer Well: The Call of Christ in Missions

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In his general epistle, written to the church at Philippi, Paul ensures his audience that it “has been granted to [them] that for the sake of Christ [they] should not only believe in him but also suffer for His sake.”[1] This same truth given to the Philippians, applies to us, as believers, today. The ministry of the Apostles and the expansion of God’s Kingdom came on the heels of much suffering. Suffering for the sake of Christ, to the glory of God, is the mark of obedience to the will of God. Jesus Himself reminds us “a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”[2] The way of the cross is the way of suffering. And one cannot carry out the Great Commission without taking up his cross, and following Christ on the road to Calvary.

Dr. Arthur Glasser asserts that “the gospel cannot be preached and the people of God cannot be gathered into congregations within the nations (John 11:52) without individuals ‘completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions’ in order to accomplish this task (Col. 1:24).”[3] It is nonsensical how Bible-believing missionaries overseas are withdrawing, or being withdrawn, amidst severe persecution (ISIS, etc.), so as to protect their own lives, while many natives of foreign lands—whom are our brothers and sisters in Christ—are being slain daily. The Christian is called to suffer and to endure such persecution for the glory of God. To avoid what is the inevitable call of Christ—to come and die—is to avoid the very will of God, and diminish the glory of God among the nations.

The way of the cross is a fundamental part of Christian missions. A valuable lesson, to count the cost, may be learned from the Apostles, and those who have gone before us: “do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord … but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God.”[4] When you suffer, you suffer for the gospel. Suffering for God, glorifies God, and aids in the advancement of His Kingdom. Our suffering in this world, points to our suffering Savior, whom died for this world, that the world might be saved. Therefore, beloved, let us suffer well, and, holdfast to the words of Paul: “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.”[5]

           

[1] Philippians 1:29. All scripture quotations cite the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

[2] John 15:20.

[3] Arthur Glasser, “The Apostle Paul and the Missionary Task,” Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009), 153.

[4] 2 Timothy 2:8.

[5] Colossians 1:24.

Photo taken from SBTS.edu

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