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"The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Romans 8:16-17 - NIV)
Eagerly we grasp a hold of the concept of being children of the Most High God. We're hugely enthused to claim that adoption, and so we should be, for it is a great honor and gift of tremendous Grace (for certainly none of us is worthy of such status). Yet, there's a problem with our claims. Like so many Biblical promises, there's a catch and sadly, we often neglect that part of the Scripture. Notice the "if" attached.
Yes, His Spirit will testify with ours that we belong to Him; yes we will be co-heirs with Christ and yes, we will share in His glory, if...we share in His sufferings. Perhaps it would benefit us to understand what those sufferings were. How did Christ suffer and what can we expect if we're to share in those afflictions and rewards?
Well we know He was tempted (Matthew 4:1) but did not sin, and certainly we can all expound on our daily temptations (some we conquer, some we don't), but it's doubtful that these are the sufferings the writer of Romans refers to. Dig a little deeper into the story...
Jesus was called crazy by His family (Mark 3:21), He was persecuted by religious zealots (John 9:16, Matthew 16:1, John 11:57, etc.)and non-religious people (Luke 8:37, Luke 23: 39) He was betrayed by an apostle(John 13:11), rebuked by a friend (Mark 8:32), robbed by Judas and the soldiers (John 12:6), insulted by the people He'd come to heal (Mark 15:29, Luke 23:11), spat upon (Mark 15:19), beaten (Matthew 26:67)and murdered (John 19:10, Matthew 27:35). Why in the world do we think that we are supposed to have the easy life?
This concept of promises being recited and preached without the appropriate condition also taught, is really heavy on my heart. Of course we want to get the good stuff, but we have to realize that we are called to suffer, we are required to delight in the Savior, to abide in His Word and to love Him. Grace is a gift, for sure, but that doesn't mean this life is a free ride to prosperity. There are false prophets running rampant and we really need to hone our discernment skills. Quit seeking the entertainment, spectacle, feel good stuff and dig into the TRUTH.
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