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The Unopened Box in American Christianity (by Ben Johnson)

Mailing7There is a box in American Christianity that few ever open. Contained in the box is something we try to ignore. As AmericanChristians, we believe that what is in that box should never happen. So as much as lies within us, we set that box in a dark corner and hope to never see what is inside of it.

What is inside this box makes us incredibly uncomfortable. But you see, all around the world; Christians have this box opened daily and are confronted with it. Though as Americans we fear what lurks within this box, when we begin to read the Bible with our eyes open; we can see that what this box contains is not something to fear but to not only expect it but we can even embrace it.

What then is in this box? Suffering and specifically, suffering for the sake of the Gospel.

It has been said before but it must be said again, we Americans have grown up with the opinion that persecution and suffering are the exception rather than the rule of Christianity and that opinion is contrary to what the Bible teaches. The apostle Paul in his farewell address that is Second Timothy tells his son in the faith to be bold and to prepare for what is to come.

Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospelaccording to the power of God; – 2 Timothy 1:8

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. – 2 Timothy 2:3

Paul was well-acquainted with suffering. Yet in all his suffering, he never looked to abate it but welcomed it. He looked at His sufferings and scars as badges of honor; bearing the same marks as Jesus Himself. (Galatians 6:17) We see that his goal was not just knowing Christ but to also suffer and even to die as Christ suffered and died. (Philippians 3:10)

We believe a sinister lie in our Christianity and it is that the Christian life is a life devoid of suffering. We believe that it is a life of comfort. But let us realize the truth of Scripture: the call of the Christian life is a call to suffer. It is not just a call to suffer but to see that it is an honor to suffer shame for the name of Christ. (Acts 5:41, Matthew 5:11-13)

 

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