27 “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 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, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”
But how and why are we to suffer for the sake of Christ?
Jesus greatly exemplifies this to us. He is the suffering servant that bore the cross for God’s ultimate purpose. God calls us to a life of suffering not to burden us but to find satisfaction in our following in the life of his son. In love, Jesus was sent to join in our human suffering, taking on more than we will ever have to because of what he did on the cross. Paul is mirroring Christ’s actions in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prays that God would relieve his suffering but ends with praying that the Father’s will be done and not his own. In the same way Paul concludes that while he has a desire to be relieved from his suffering, his ultimate desire is to do God’s will. God doesn’t promise that we would not experience suffering, we should expect it, but trust that even in suffering, he has a redemptive plan for us in Jesus.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”