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Why We Must Suffer
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Why We Must Suffer
So many ministers and faiths are preaching almost exclusively about the pleasant side of being a Christian in today’s world
and are often absent about the fullness of what it means to be a Christian.
As Richard Neibuhr writes in – The Kingdom of God in America
In essence, this flawed belief is that God is only love, not judgment, once saved, always saved, live life abundantly, God will protect and rapture His church before the tribulation, sparing Christians from suffering. What a shallow & bankrupt distortion of the full message of love AND judgment Jesus preached throughout the New Testament.
On page 258 of T.L. Frazier’s book A Second Look at the Second Coming says “To be Christian is to suffer”
The verb apokalupto (noun apokalupsis) means “to uncover” or “reveal.” The Book of Revelation is sometimes called by its Greek title, the Apocalypse. The word is used of Christ’s Second Coming in Luke 17:30: “Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed [apokalupto].” Paul tells the church at Corinth that they await “the apokalupsis of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7). Peter counsels us to partake of Christ’s sufferings and to endure persecutions gladly, for they will redound to our benefit when the Lord’s glory is “revealed,” apokalupsis (1 Pet. 4:13). Second Thessalonians 1:7 states that Christians will only have “rest” from tribulation “when the Lord is revealed [apokalupsis] from heaven with His mighty angels.” Paul speaks of our works being “revealed [apokalupto] by fire” at Christ’s Second Coming (1 Cor. 3:13). That Day will be an apokalupto of our glory as well (Rom. 8:18). Peter also remarks on “the glory that shall be revealed [apokalupto] at the Second Coming (1 Pet. 5:1).
WHY DOES GOD ALLOW US TO SUFFER?
If God is all perfect and God is all powerful, why does God allow people to suffer so terribly? That is a question that many sincere people ask and on the surface, it contains an element of simplistic logic. God could have created a perfect world, where everyone never sins and in many ways the people in that world would be like robots.
God in His infinite capacity to love us, grants us free will to choose moment by moment, day by day how we will act in each situation we are placed in. This free will includes the capacity for each of us to have the option to choose sinful behavior. While God always hopes that we will look up to Him, honor Him, pray to Him, thank Him, ask His forgiveness and focus our attention on worshiping Him and thanking Him for all the many blessings He continually showers upon us each day; the sad reality of this world is that many people are so focused on their daily struggle, they seldom think about God. One of our board members pointed out at a meeting his belief on the purpose of suffering, which resonated with many in the meeting.
God allows people to suffer, for without suffering, many people would be so preoccupied with their daily routines, they would rarely if ever contemplate God. Many people would be caught up in the “eat, drink and be merry” carnal and materialistic mentality. By stripping us of our possessions, health, finances, and material security at times, God can get our full undivided attention. As we cry our in sorrow, anger and mourning, we often turn more fully towards God and take our pain and hurt to God to receive His healing and comfort. As we turn to God and seek Him more earnestly; He is able to work more deeply in our lives to make us more Christ like, which is His goal for all of us.
The bottom line is, if God did not allow us to suffer greatly, many would largely ignore Him and few would enter the kingdom of Heaven with a close relationship with God. Through the suffering, many turn to God and this allows God to work more deeply in their lives and give them faith, hope and love; and by allowing this suffering, many more will grow closer to God to seek relief from the intense pain of the suffering.
THE SUFFERING AND DEATH OF THE HOLY APOSTLES
Depicted below is a chart of the men who were credited at some point in their lives as being one of Jesus’s apostles. As the chart clearly depicts, all apostles but St. John the Theologian died a brutal death, and St. John did a long tour of duty in prison. None escaped harsh persecution, and this precedent of apostolic suffering is clearly universal for a reason.
Far too many modern day religions are myopic in their focus on the abundance of Christ. A balance study of the scriptures clearly demonstrates that suffering is a legacy that is weaved all throughout the tapestry of the old and new testaments.
ON KEEPING THE FAITH THROUGH SUFFERING
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body” (2 Cor. 4:8).
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