Writings on Christianity

Suffering For The Sake Of Christ (Phil 1:29-30)

 Suffering For The Sake of ChristSuffer

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. (Phil 1:29-30 ESV)

In Phil 1:29-30 Paul reminds the Philippian believers that God has graciously granted them two things for the sake of Christ: (1) faith to believe in Jesus; (2) suffering.  Concerning the first item (faith in Jesus), as a person believes in Jesus they experience redemption from sins and a right standing with God (Phil 3:8-9).  When this happens, the hope is shown not to be in one’s moral or religious efforts, but in the person and work of Jesus.  This faith itself is a gift from God, given to the believer, for the sake of Jesus, who is glorified in the process.  I believe this aspect is easier for us to grasp, but the second object granted to believers (suffering) is far more difficult.  Why would God give us the opportunity to suffer for the sake of Christ?

Commentator Gordon Fee is insightful here:

“One of the reasons most of us in the West do not know more about the content of vv. 29-30 is that we have so poorly heeded the threefold exhortation that precedes: (1) to stand firm in the one Spirit (overall our pneumatology is especially weak); (2) to contend for the faith of the gospel as one person (the “faith of the gospel has been watered down in so many ways, on all sides [not just by “liberalism,” but by the blatant materialism that erodes the evangelical church], that it is sometimes not worth contending for; and our sectarianism has more often resulted in in-house furor than in contending for the gospel in the face of pagan opposition); and (3) to do so by not being intimidated in any way by the opposition (who tend to focus on our many weaknesses, so as continually to deflect our contending for the gospel of our crucified Savior per se).

The net result is that the content of Paul’s explanation is something contemporary Christians hear reluctantly, either out of guilt that so many of us look so little like this, or out of fear that it might someday really be true for us.  The key is to return to Paul’s emphasis, “for the sake of Christ.” Our tendency is to focus on the suffering; what is needed is a radical paradigm shift toward Christ—and his apostle—as God’s ultimate paradigm for us.  Through “death on a cross” he not only “saved us,” but modeled for us God’s way of dealing with the opposition—loving them to death.
-Gordon Fee “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians” (173-174).

Photo Credit: Marko Milošević via Compfight cc

By Tom Schmidt

Christian, husband of Rach, Church Planter,musician,

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