“Opposition to Him (Jesus) will inevitably touch us.” – S.Ferguson

In Christ Alone - SFergusonTaken from chapter 44 of Sinclair Ferguson’s work In Christ Alone (Reformation Trust, Kindle ed.). The chapter is about growing through persecution and suffering, and is titled “Growing Strong in the War Zone.” In it Ferguson references Peter’s first epistle, with its clear reminder to believers that to be a Christian means to suffer for Christ’s sake.

Suffering, he [Peter] underlined, is a basic element in the structure of the Christian life (1 Peter 4:12).

Faith is tested and proved genuine through trials ( 1 Peter 1:6-7). Like gold refined in a furnace, trials can cleanse and purify the Christian. The persecution that is intended to destroy you actually has the opposite effect – it makes you rely more on Christ and draws you to live closer to Him. The person who suffers in the flesh for Christ is the person who rejects the enticements of sin (1 Peter 4:1-2). When you have faced up to the cost of discipleship – socially, materially, even physically –  a new decisiveness enters into your lifestyle.

Suffering also provides the theater in which Christians demonstrate – by the radically different way they respond to opposition – that they belong to a counterculture or, better, to a Jesus culture. They submit to government, not for its own sake but the Lord’s ( 1 Peter 2:13). They submit even to harsh taskmasters because they want to follow in the steps of Christ, who left an example ( 1 Peter 2:18-21).

…Peter’s bottom line is this: don’t be surprised by suffering (1 Peter 4:12).

But how can twenty-first-century Christians in the Western world be un-surprised in times of suffering? We can do so only by being delivered from a faulty understanding of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus was crucified by this world. To become a Christian by definition means to follow a cross-bearing Savior and Lord. It means to be identified with Him in such a way that opposition to Him will inevitably touch us.

Paul said that he bore on his body the marks of Jesus (Gal.6:17). So perhaps we should ask [These lines are taken from a poem written by Amy Carmichael.]:

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land;
I hear them hail thy bright, ascendant star.
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned Me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?
Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me.
But thine are whole. Can he have followed far
Who hast no wound or scar?

Are you are marked man or woman?

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