After a dear friend risked his life to reach an unengaged people group with the gospel and paid the ultimate price, I have given my part in this much thought. We in western cultures live in conditions that are fairly safe and I fear we have become far too passive in our thinking, and therefore passive in our prayers.
Right in the middle of verses that deal with many personal issues, Hebrews 13:3 gives us this instruction: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” The force of that phrase I underlined means that you actually see yourself alongside the person in prison, or suffering for their faith in Christ, or rejected by their own family. When we do this, we are no longer being passive in our feelings and prayer for them.
We have even a stronger example of this in the Lord Jesus. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4). Notice how the prophecy exposes the human problem of misinterpreting the suffering of Jesus when in fact He took on Himself what we would experience before we go through the experience.
At the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and others, Matthew says “This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases”” (Matthew 8:17) looking back to Isaiah 53:4. Jesus clearly identified with the suffering we go through. As having His Spirit, we must do the same if we are going to represent Jesus to others who are suffering in the body of Christ.
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