Friday, May 16, 2008
1 Peter 4:12-19
The picture here is of a bombed church in Iraq. Would you go to worship the next Sunday if this happened to our church?
One of my biggest, and I mean BIGGEST pet peeves in modern Christianity is the way the faith is portrayed as a remedy for life's tough stuff. That is to say, Christianity is peddled as solution to all of life's problems, and that God will replace your troubles with comfort and ease if you do things right. Smiling preachers all over media spout that dribble. Suffering is a result, according to some teachers, of "some hidden sin" in a person's heart. While that may, in fact, be the cause of some kinds of suffering - Peter even says we need to make sure that that's NOT why we are suffering - the Christian is told to embrace suffering as a path to deep faith in God.
There is an essential difference, at the same time, between the normal suffering that comes with life - ie sickness, accidents, death and grieving, etc. - and the suffering that comes our way as a result of being a follower of Christ. In the West we don't often deal with the latter brand of suffering very much. But Christians all over the world know such suffering well. The Church in China (check out this BBC article from 2004) and Iraq, for instance, know what it is to suffer. Instead of seeing ourselves (the Church in the West) as specially blessed because we do not suffer, could it be that we are somehow poor because we don't know the riches that result from such suffering? Could it be that sacrifice is part of what opens the door to being a suffering people - and we're not so good at genuine sacrifice? What would happen if we began to really sacrifice? Is that a frightening prospect for you? What would that kind of sacrifice look like in real life? - Curtis