Since therefor, Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

1 Peter 4: 1, 2

 

Let’s face it, most of us do not like pain. We will do almost anything to avoid it and to get rid of it as quickly as is possible when we encounter its presence. We have developed methods for avoiding the sorts of situations that bring it upon us, and our science has created numerous compounds and devices that grant us relief from it. So, to suggest that this sort of discomfort or worse is something to consider as worthy of acceptance is just a bit off center to the way that most people process life. Yet, God deliberately brought extraordinary and overwhelming pain upon Himself in order to bring each of us back into His full and eternal presence. Jesus, the one person in all of history who did not deserve to suffer as He was in all ways without sin, took on our states of lostness so that this restoration could be truly accomplished.

 

Now, we are invited to join with Christ in suffering a small portion of the agony of His cross so that we can put to death the lingering effects of our sinful state of deviation from God’s will and enter more fully into His path of righteousness in our lives. It does seem to be necessary to willingly take on a form of pain in order for some of the aspects of our former lives to be removed from us. There are ways of thinking and forms of action that are deeply ingrained within us so that they have become a too comfortable part of our sense of being. When these vestiges of our former, pre-redemption, selves cling to us, they often do so with a fierce sort of tenacity that makes their removal somewhat like what undergoing dental work must have been like in ancient times. Yet, there is one very real and absolutely significant difference between our human experiences of painful events and this one of entering into Christ’s call to holiness.

 

Christ has gone there before us, and now He travels these hard paths of transformative life with us. When we turn these various aspects and areas of life over to Christ by placing them on His cross of sacrificial pain and death, we are giving up control over a part of ourselves and allowing the Lord to take over this same internal territory. In doing this there can be an excruciating tearing of our spiritual and emotional flesh; yet, God is faithful to provide the sort of healing that brings about a greater form of strength as He moves us closer to His calling for our lives. This way of Christ’s cross is seldom an easy road to travel, but it is the direction through the remaining days of our lives wherein we leave behind ever more of the sinful passions and rebellious disobedience to God that is behind them in order to live in the fuller experience and expression of Christ’s glorious will for our lives.