In the Name of Jesus. Amen
Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. ESV
Those are great promises of comfort. God has it all planned out for us that all things work together for our good and we are conformed to the image of Jesus. Romans 8 is a wonderful thing to behold. Some have understood that to be conformed to the image of Jesus to be able to be well respected, honored, appreciated etc. Pretty heady stuff to appear to be like God the Son isn’t it?
Those are not things that one who seeks to walk close to the Crucified One will necessarily have. Throughout history those who believed in Jesus from the early older testament time prophets, our Lord Himself, the Apostles, many early church fathers and many Christians down to our present age are conformed to the image of Jesus through persecution and martyrdom.
Matthew 16: 24 Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ESV
This world is not on the same operating system, if you will, with which God created it. In this world the Creator became man was rejected, persecuted and killed rather than greeted with open arms. As followers of Jesus we can expect the same thing. In this world we have the unholy trinity of the world, flesh and the devil with which to deal.
Jesus said the world hated Him and will also hate us who follow Him. We are not greater than He are we? So it will come as no surprise when we endeavor undertakings that we meet with resistance. Just take the message of Jesus out in the world and see the rejection and loss of relationships that will happen. This is to be expected by those who wish to walk with Jesus each and everyday.
We are also in constant struggle with our own sinful flesh that will never do the right thing and rebel against holy living. Add to that dealing with those around us unbelievers, false and erring brethren one can end up quite alone and feel rejected. Jesus had that happen where even His close disciples took a powder and abandoned Him on the night of His betrayal. A servant is not greater than his Master.
And our adversary is prowling about like a lion wanting to devour us. He will personally and through others blame you for all the problems in this life. His aim is that you at the least stop growing in the Lord but his ultimate purposes are for you to lose your faith. Jesus said some would believe and due to temptation and persecution reject the faith. A pastor one time said that when a baby is baptized he or she has a target painted on his or her forehead that the devil will see and go to work on them. The same with an adult convert. In baptism we have the Name of our Father, Son and Holy Spirit placed on us and we see Satan is always working at counter purpose from his creator. Yes he indeed hates all of humanity but especially those redeemed by God.
Rather bleak isn’t it? But on the other hand we have the Holy Trinity on our side. We are in the image of Jesus in being perfectly holy in the sight of God. Even though our best works are in themselves sinful God looks upon those in Jesus and is quite pleased. What a wonderful peace to know that in spite of how things are going here is that we have a loving Father Who will neither reject us nor let anything grab us out of His hand.
Jesus gives us these crosses we do not choose them. This is special suffering we have only due to the fact of being a child of God. While cross bearing in this life we also know that someday we will be raised to new life to the fullness. At that time we will see Jesus for we will be like Him united forever with the Holy Trinity in eternal love and bliss.
In the Name of Jesus. Amen. †