“Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ.” 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

What do you expect the Christian life to be like? Our expectations of life in this world should be shaped not just by the reality of this fallen world, but by the fact that we have chosen to follow a crucified savior.

If you follow a big celebrity, you might expect to share in some of their glamour. If you follow a great general, you might expect to share in his victories in battle. What would you expect, if you choose to follow a man who was crucified?

You will share in the experience of Christ
“In this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33 (NIV)
“If the world hates you keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18 (NIV)

Your experience will reflect what you are invested in. If you are in business and it is a tough time for business, then it will be a tough time for you. If you are in stocks, then what happens to these stocks happens to you. If you are in bonds, then what happens to these bonds happens to you.

One of the most common descriptions of a Christian in the Bible is that we are “in Christ.” If you are in Christ then it would be reasonable to expect that what happened to Christ will happen to you, that you will have a share in his experience.

Jesus’ experience in this world
Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ.1 Peter 4:13 (NIV)

As you think about Jesus’ experience of life in this world, remember that you have freely chosen to identify yourself with him and to follow Him.

1. He worked hard in manual labor making a living that was never more than enough to get by.
2. He was never married, and he had no children.
3. He never became a homeowner. In fact he had no place to lay his head.
4. He was the special focus of Satan’s particular attention. The devil tempted Jesus with greater force than any man has ever been tempted.
5. He was the most under-appreciated person who ever lived. Rejected in his own home town — a prophet without honor in his own country.
6. He experienced the constant frustration of colleagues who did not understand what he was saying and who were reluctant to follow Him.
7. He knew the deep pain of being betrayed by one with whom he had shared so much of life and to whom he had given so much trust.
8. When he faced his hour of greatest need his friends let him down.
9. When false charges were brought against him there was nobody who would help him find justice.
10.    He knew what it was to reach out in love, and to experience hatred from the very people he had chosen to love.

That’s what life in this world was like for Jesus. We have chosen to follow him. So, if your experience is the same as His, that’s par for the course. If you have more than He had, then regard that as a unique gift and privilege from God,

The question God asks you is not “Do you want to go to heaven?” but “Are you ready to follow Jesus?” Let the life of Jesus set your expectations. If there is one person who is there for you in your darkest hour, then you have more than Jesus had.

This LifeKey is based on the message “New Reality,” preached by Pastor Colin S. Smith on November 9, 2003, from the series “10 Keys to Unlock the Christian Life.”