Suffering in the Suburbs
On the news I’ve been hearing a lot lately about Christians being persecuted in the Middle East and around the world (North Korea, Iran, Sudan, etc.). Some of these believers have been killed, beaten, or kidnapped for their faith in Jesus. Others have been raped or had all of their possessions taken away. Such persecutions are foreign to us in the West, where life can be pretty easy—comparatively. For the most part, we can profess Christ and not worry about any type of physical suffering. In fact, we can profess just about any religion and have relative safety.
Our position of safety and freedom to preach the gospel was not shared by all Christians of past ages. Many of our ancestors had to endure bitter hardships for holding onto their beliefs. Some were burned alive, while others were fed to lions, crucified upside down, or sawn in half. We on the other hand seem to have things pretty easy. The blessings afforded us and the freedoms we enjoy allow us to share the gospel quite openly. [We should give thanks to God for these freedoms and use them as much as we can for the advancement of the Kingdom].
While most Christians in the West may not have to endure physical persecution, we still are faced with the fact that we will suffer in this life. Scripture tells us that it has been granted to us “not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake” (Phil 1:29). The life of a Christian is not utter ease, comfort, and convenience, but one of taking up our cross and dying to self. We are promised eternal bliss and freedom from the pains of this life when Jesus returns and reigns on the new earth, but it’s a mistake to think that we are entitled to experience these now. In this time of waiting for Christ to return we will suffer as Christians. And as we suffer, we are reminded that it is an opportunity to partake in sufferings of Christ (Col 1:24), as the body of Christ.
So what does it look like to suffer in the West? Or more specifically, what does it look like to suffer in the suburbs? (I ask this, since I happen to live in Naperville, a Chicago suburb). Does faithful obedience to Christ necessitate suffering in suburbia—a place known to be full of ease and comfort? I believe that is does. Coming up, I’ll discuss 3 ways in particular that we suffer in the suburbs and how embracing this frees and empowers us to be on mission.