Like a number of Christian ministers I know, it seems like a part of my spiritual mentorship actually comes from dead guys from the past. Yes I know; that sounds exciting doesn’t it? But by that I mean being able to glean from the writings of Christ followers in times gone by who really walked with God. Some of the men that I still read from and about are Spurgeon, Moody, Finney, Taylor, Muller and Bonhoeffer. There are other guys who I don’t read as much from, but still have a profound influence on my kingdom thinking. One of those guys is Oswald Chambers of whom I read this morning before really hitting the day. In a devotional book I got from a friend back in CA he gives a commentary over 1 Peter 2:21 which really applies to people who are engaged in serious ministry projects. The gist of the text deals with the issue of suffering for Christ, which is a reality in authentic Kingdom living. I’ve pasted the text and commentary below. I hope it’s helpful and challenging.
“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21
“Do you suffer on account of somebody else or for somebody else? In your agonizing prayers before the Lord on behalf of what you consider a “distressing situation,” are you longing for release because the “distressing situation” hurts and discomforts you? If so, you are not having fellowship with His suffering. But if your soul, out of love, longs and bears in a voluntary and vicarious way for others, then you are having fellowship with Jesus in His sufferings.
When your Christian work seemingly is in ruins and you wail before God, is it because the work of your hands is in ruins? Are you tempted to say, “I thought this was to be my life work; now it is broken and blighted and shattered”? If so, you do not know what fellowship with HIS sufferings means. But when you see people defiling the work of God, making HIS house of worship a place for worldly business for the engendering of false affections and pursuits (I would also add a crying out for those perishing without knowing the love of Christ) and you agonize before the Lord with tears, then you are learning to have fellowship with our Lord in HIS sufferings.”
My Utmost for His Highest
I think Chambers was on to something there, as so many times our prayers of anguish have more to do with getting us out of our tense situations than for the good of others. Something to chew on.