Monday, April 19, 2010

"Delhi Belly" & the Suffering of Christ

As I was preparing to leave for India a friend of mine said, “Don’t get Delhi belly!” I laughed at this phrase of course but I did take him seriously, and yet somehow I knew that I would contract this pesky ailment no matter how careful I was. And indeed I have done just that.

For those of you who don’t know what “Delhi belly” is, let’s just say I’ve gone through 1.5 super-size rolls of toilet paper in three days. Get the picture? Sorry to have provided you with it but I do actually have a reason for doing so!

In order to share in the resurrection power of Christ we must also partake of his sufferings. We must count all things as loss that we, by whatever means possible, might attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil 3:7-11). And not only that, we must be willing to suffer minor inconveniences and serious ailments and persecution unto death that some from every tribe and tongue and nation might come to know the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Now, some of you may wonder if something like “Delhi belly” really qualifies to be included in the sufferings of Christ, and I would answer by saying of course it does. There’s only one reason I have this ailment: I have left the comforts of my homeland, I have not considered American life something to be grasped, but instead I have made my abode among the poor for one month, part of which means I’m eating their food. Their food is what is making me sick but, by the grace of God, I have counted my physical and cultural comfort as nothing that both they and I might know Christ Jesus and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings.

We Americans are so comfortable, in fact, we’ve made a god of our comfort. Anything that threatens our comfort must either be avoided or destroyed. But this is not the way of Christ. Christ himself left unimaginable comfort to take on the form of a servant and be obedient all the way to death on a cross, and now he commands those who believe in him to willingly do the same from the heart.

“21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’ 23 And he said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels’” (Luke 9:21-26).

So whether it’s Delhi belly or disease or imprisonment or even death, may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ give us the strength to become like Christ in his death that we might also share in his resurrection.

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