“Be careful what you ask for…”
You’ve heard that before, right? Maybe you’ve even said it before. “Be careful what you ask for…”
“…because you just might get it.”
If my understanding of salvation is correct, God’s Holy Spirit is transforming us, changing us into the image of Christ. “Christ in us” is our hope of glory. We are being transformed “into the image of Christ with ever increasing glory.” Paul calls this “being saved.” It’s a process. It’s a journey. It’s a gradual becoming.
And it involves suffering.
Jesus made it plain: “All men will hate you because of me” (Matthew 10:22).
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18).
Paul knew it, too: “Every one who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
See, we don’t normally think this way. We preach and teach, we believe and confess that if the whole world acted more like Jesus everybody would love everybody. If we thought and behaved more like our Lord, people would love us and be attracted to us. The Scriptural truth and the ultimate reality is that if we become more like Jesus, people will actually hate us. It’s unavoidable. If you want a safe, untroubled, comfortable life free from danger, then stay away from Jesus! The danger and risk and exposure to suffering increases in proportion to the depth of our relationship with the Christ.
Maybe this is why we sit back and settle for a casual relationship with Christ and just routine religion in the church. It’s safe at most churches. And, the way most of us do it, it’s actually pretty popular to be a Christian and go to church. As long as we’re pursuing the same goals and values and uphold the same ideals as everybody else in the world, even if we put a Christian label on it, the world’s cool with us. As long as our Christianity looks like the American Dream, we’re not going to have many problems.
But Jesus says, “Everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).
“It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:29).
Peter says we shouldn’t be surprised when it happens. Paul says we should consider it a joy. Scripture upholds that suffering is a gift. Christ gives us a gift — suffering. It’s a blessing. It’s a grace. It’s transformational. It’s life; eternal life. It’s discipleship; being like Jesus. Sanctification; being changed. Salvation; being saved.
Make me a servant; Lord, make me like you.
Be careful what you ask for.