‘Suffering’

Barbaric or Human? Where was God?

November 25th, 2013

Judges 21:21-22 – when the men came and took wives as they danced and the way they explained it afterwards, I thought, “how primitive!”. Also the killing of men, women, and children (Jud 21:10-11, their own decision, not commanded by God this time)… a critic might say how could a good God allow such things, but is God’s job or even his purpose to create a utopian life, by human standards? And aren’t we, even in our “modern”, “enlightened” state still quite primitive and barbaric by His standards anyway?

There is a difference in perspective. We see barbarism and primitiveness as compared to our own advancement and civility and blame God. We must think we are more evolved than the God of those ancient peoples, that we could have done a better job being their god. By comparison, God sees us all as barbaric, selfish, primitive sinners. He works within the context of our existence, because he sees beyond the physical world.

More important than the physical conditions is our spiritual condition and the spiritual lessons learned while we are in this physical life. Sometimes things that are unthinkable to us physically seem to pass by God unnoticed. He notices, it’s just that compared to the spiritual plane, those physical events are “small potatoes”. Romans 8:18

Safety and Freedom

April 16th, 2013

The highest degree of safety can be achieved by accepting that perfect safety does not exist with true freedom.

True freedom is a higher priority than ultimate safety. Take away freedom in the name of safety and you will be less safe in the end.

Allow risk in the name of freedom and you will still be unsafe, but to a much less degree than if you give up freedom for safety.

Life IS Short

April 1st, 2011

Twice today I heard news of someone passing away suddenly.  One a friend and one a stranger.

This morning someone told me of a car accident they witnessed and of the young woman he had administered first aid to.  She did not make it.

Then tonight I found out that a young man I had been speaking to this week died just last night.  I was planning to drop in on him at his place of work tomorrow and catch a late lunch once he got off at 2pm.  I’m sure he also had plans for today and tomorrow and the weekend.  His facebook post earlier in the day Wednesday said “so ready for friday!!!”

No doubt the young woman who died from the car accident also had plans for her weekend.

These deaths were so sudden, so premature for their young lives, affording no goodbyes or closure for their family and friends.

There are a few biblical concepts which come to my mind in the midst of the shock and disorientation which I feel.  First, I have to say that my own difficulty in processing the grievous finality of death pales in comparison to those closest to the deceased.  It is tempting for us as Christians to rush in with soothing words, yet those who feel the full weight of the loss know all too well that it does not diminish the pain the way we think it ought to.  This is why my first recollection from Scripture is that death really is terrible.  There is no softening it: death stings.

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All Who Desire to Live Godly Will Suffer

January 15th, 2010

crown_of_thorns

The message I preached Sunday (01/10/10) was from 1 Corinthians 4:6-17 where the apostle Paul urges the Corinthians to imitate him (vs. 16), but not before giving an ironic comparison between them and him. I had to ask myself, do I really want the apostles’ adjectives to describe my life? Is it worth it? I also used 2 Cor 11:23-27 where Paul gives his “résumé” of suffering. What does that mean for me? I aspire to be like the leaders in scripture. Sometimes (like even in last week’s message) I will relate to the apostle’s position and example. Not this week. I’ve never been beaten, etc. and do I really even want to???

First of all, it is worth it.

The One with the power to raise Christ from the dead wants to empower you with that power.

He told Paul in the next chapter after the “résumé”, in 12:9

“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

And Paul responded with

Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

I am praying for you friends, that

“ the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, (Eph 1:18-20)

And that you

“may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, (Eph 3:18-20)

Second of all, I realized when Paul says, “imitate me” he doesn’t mean go looking for a beating. He tells the Corinthians that he was sending Timothy to “remind you of my ways”. We should aspire to DO the things that the apostles DID. So, we don’t aspire to suffer, but we aspire to have the same eternal mindset, focused on the heavenly rewards. However, knowing that suffering is inevitable frees us from the bondage of the fear of it. When we see that it is inevitable we go through that soul-searching process of asking “IS IT WORTH IT?” Coming to the answer or “Yes, it is” then we are left with our minds set on doing those things which lead to godly lives and eternal rewards.

“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12)

I didn’t mention earlier, but I believe persecution comes in many forms, not just your standard torture/starving/beating stuff. Any trial is a kind of persecution if you recognize that we are in a spiritual battle.

In each of these passages, the pain is worth it, and the response is a renewed desire for godly living and perseverance. Read them and meditate on them today! 2 Cor 4:7-18; Rom 7:24-25; 2 Tim 4:6-8; 1 Cor 15:54-58

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