Monday, April 6, 2009

April 7- United With Christ in his Sufferings

(Rembrandt- raising the cross Rembrandt painted himself at the foot of the cross)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

4/7- United with Christ in his sufferings I Peter 4:12-17
12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God's household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (I Peter 4:12-17)

Calvin: There is a frequent mention made in this Epistle of afflictions; the cause of which we have elsewhere explained. But this difference is to be observed, that when he exhorts the faithful to patience, he sometimes speaks generally of troubles common to man’s life; but here he speaks of wrongs done to the faithful for the name of Christ. And first, indeed, he reminded them that they ought not to have deemed it strange as for a thing sudden and unexpected; by which he intimates, that they ought by a long mediation to have been previously prepared to bear the cross. For whosoever has resolved to fight under Christ’s banner, will not be dismayed when persecution happens, but, as one accustomed to it, will patiently bear it. That we may then be in a prepared state of mind when the waves of persecutions roll over us, we ought in due time to habituate ourselves to such an event by meditating continually on the cross. (Commentary I Peter 4:12-17)

Calvin knew that suffering would come. He had faced his share. He knew how to get through it, and he was encouraging his people to also persevere. One of the key elements for Calvin was to focus on Christ’s cross. When we suffer because we are Christians or for our witness for Christ, then we are partaking in Christ’s sufferings. Christ promises to be near those, to comfort those so suffering, and to reward those so suffering. Note that Calvin’s solution is not to go into ecstacy (as the mystics), to cry out to the saints (as the catholics), to go into a trance (as the Anabaptists), but to meditate upon the cross- use the mind. The mind is a great gift of God given to help us focus. When we think on the cross- and meditate on what Jesus freely did for us- and the blessings of forgiveness, hope, and help that is ours because of it- we are comforted. It is easy to fear. When fear kicks in, often the mind leaves for the nearest exit. Meditation on the cross reminds us of the worst that humans can do, and that even that has no power over God.

Prayer: Lord, may we face suffering with the grace and peace you exhibited. Turn our minds and our hearts toward you, O Lord.

No comments:

Post a Comment