Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Paul in Prison Pt. 2

Throughout Philippians, Paul gives us many reasons why and how we can endure trials and tribulations. Paul wishes to encourage the new Church not just by words but by example as well. While sitting in his cell, chained to the wall he says “even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial alter of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. Likewise you also should rejoice with me.” (Phil. 2:17-18). Paul rejoices in his present situation, no matter the agony, the pain, and the unjustness of it all, he is content to endure it for the sake of his follower’s faith, for the sake of the gospel, so as to be an example.

Not only is he enduring it with the contentment and joy that comes only from Christ. But he also considers it an honor. He takes honor and pride in being in prison.In Phil. 1:29-30 he says "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have." Paul is most likely rotting away in a cell with the festering wounds of a whip still unattended upon his back, and yet he considers at an honor that he is sharing in the sufferings of Christ, suffering for the One who gave His life. It is our joy, our pleasure, and honor to suffer for Him who saved us from eternal hell.

Christ was the perfect and only Son of God, greatly cherished and loved. In contrast man was rebellious, ungrateful, and separated from God. We are alienated from the perfect judge of the world, and there is nothing we can do to reconcile ourselves to Him. Yet this perfect Judge gave His most beloved Son in our stead! Jesus Christ had to degrade Himself and take on flesh. He came to earth only to suffer unjustly at the hands of those whom He came to save. He took on all our sins, nailed then to the cross, and endured the wrath of His heavenly Father for our transgressions. Jesus Christ reconciled us back to God, payed our debt, and offers us eternal life with Him and the Father.

It is because of all of this, that Paul rejoices to be able to suffer, but a little, for his Savior. Christ payed the biggest debt we could ever owe, and we have no way of paying Him back. Sharing in His suffering is way of saying our thanks, of showing our gratitude for what Christ and the Father did for us. This is why Paul considers it an honor, and calls all of us to take joy in our suffering. The Savior gave His life, we can but live and suffer for Him!

We as the elect, chosen, and saved, should rejoice in the opportunity to suffer for the sake of Christ. No one promises it will be easy, or without pain and tears, but we are promised to be given the strength of Christ, to make us content in whatever our situation is. We should be honored to suffer for the One who gave His life for us!

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