Friday, February 10, 2017

Philippians 1:29-30 -- On Suffering and Service

"For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Having the same conflict which ye saw in me, and now hear to be in me."
Philippians 1:29-30

When we think of suffering for Christ's sake we often think of the persecution of religion, or how hard it is to stand up for what we believe in the midst of a world that often mocks the truth.  Interestingly, though those kinds of suffering are things that sometimes obscure our view of the true joy of the gospel, they aren't what Paul is talking about in this particular place.  The "same conflict" here is what Paul refers to earlier in the chapter (Philippians 1:23-24): "For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: / Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."

Paul's suffering, and our suffering as he refers to it, is life itself.  The necessity to be here, when we could be with God instead.  And sometimes that is a real struggle.  Life is hard, with many other kinds of suffering and pain.  And yet, life is also good and amazing, and meaningful and *worth it.*  Paul, who desired so much to be with Christ, stayed anyway, because he knew he needed to teach and help.  And, as he says, we are given the same task... to stay here and help others in the service of Christ.

The whole idea of only staying alive for the benefit of other people really spins my head a little bit... in a good way.  It kind of kicks out all of my selfishness as irrelevant and forces me to look at that bigger question... why am I even here, and alive?  And of course it is because of Christ, and of course I should be here, remain here, and help him... no matter what my personal struggles or (by comparison) petty challenges.  If I am not here for me, but to help others, then that is what I need to focus on, and the "suffering" or struggle of life... surviving, having a clogged sink... you know, whatever... those are all side issues. :)

Today, let's focus on helping Christ by serving and assisting others, rather than focusing on our own struggles.  Let's accept the suffering inherent in life, and roll with it--as a tertiary concern, not letting it distract us from our main goal, part of which at least is helping others feel the joy of Christ and his gospel.

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