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A Dubious Calling
by Terry Barlow
10/10/12
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I've always been amazed that suffering undeservedly could be considered a calling.(1 Peter 2 v 19-22) Yet that's exactly what kind of calling Jesus answered. Probably the most unpopular fellowship of all is what the Bible calls the fellowship of his sufferings.(Phillipians 3 v10) Unpopular as it is, yet we know that if we do not suffer we will not reign, if we do not die to self, which involves suffering, we will not experience resurrection life. Another part of entering the fellowship of his sufferings is facing what Jesus faced in being left alone without support in his time of deepest need. The Father being holy had to turn away from him at that time because Jesus had become sin, had become a curse not merely had borne sin or a curse but been fully identified with it. On a smaller scale we are required to pass through such experiences. We are even commanded to give thanks when suffering unjustly and being neglected in deep need. In fact that gracious response is the essence of being charismatic in the biblical sense. We see in the gospel accounts of the behaviour of Christ on the cross that he did not lose his intimacy with or his faith in his Father in the midst of his sense of forsakenness. He still went on to commit his spirit into his Father's care.(Luke 23 v 46) Sometimes we may taste of what Job tasted in his hour of deepest need: in his case it wasn't that nobody was there but rather those who loved him most were there in the wrong spirit and attitude with condemning words instead of a listening ear or a shoulder to support. In all of this we are taught it is a privilege to suffer and that it is part of a process, not the end of the matter. There is restoration and transformation involved, some of which can come in other way.

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