The Cost of Our Ministry

To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.

–1 Peter 4:13

You and I are called to be Christ’s representatives. But if you embrace your calling as a minister of Jesus Christ, it’s going to cost you something. In Colossians 1:24, Paul revealed the cost of our ministry: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.” As a minister of Jesus Christ, you’re going to experience suffering. The attacks may come from nonbelievers, from Satan, and even from other Christians. As 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

But when Paul experienced suffering, he rejoiced. Let me mention three reasons we, too, can rejoice in suffering.

First of all, suffering allows us to experience the reality of God. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul said, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” When we suffer, we experience God’s power and faithfulness like we never do at other times.

Second, suffering makes us more like Christ. According to 1 Peter 1:6–7, trials purify us: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” When the heat is turned up, impurities in our lives—attitudes and actions that do not resemble Jesus Christ—are burned away. Suffering helps conform us to the image of Christ.

Third, suffering is evidence that we belong to Christ. In Colossians 1:24, Paul said, “In my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body . . . in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” In other words, the hostility the world intended for Christ is going to be directed toward those who are related to Him by faith. The fact that we suffer those same afflictions is proof that we’re part of His body.

Nobody understood that better than Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who pushed back against Adolf Hitler’s regime. As a result, Bonhoeffer was imprisoned and executed. He wrote in The Cost of Discipleship: “Suffering . . . is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master.” Bonhoeffer’s words echo 1 Peter 4:12–13: “Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you . . . ; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.”

***

Today’s devotion is adapted from “Called to Minister” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (London: SCM, 2015), 45.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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