Suffering – Part 1

If we do not start with with a correct understanding of what the Christian life is meant to be like then we will misinterpret Scripture, and consequently, God’s will.  The Jesus follower has an experience on earth that is completely different than every other type of person.  The mistake that many Christians make is thinking that they are similar to other people they just “believe” a certain way about God–but their actions do not reflect any real difference in the way they believe than a person who “believes” in something totally different.

Example:  If Jesus says that to believe in Him we must turn the other cheek, but our humanity rejects that concept and we continue to respond to mistreatment with retaliation, then we do not really believe in what Jesus says. We may like the idea of believing in Jesus, but belief is supported by action–by submission to it’s tenants.

The belief that I want to address in a 5 part series is that of Christian suffering.  The bottom line up front is that Christians are promised constant suffering while they are on earth and this suffering reinforces to the Christian that they are a follower of Jesus Christ.  If you as a Christian are not suffering then you have not embraced the call of Christ to pick up your cross daily and follow Him.  Picking up a cross entails suffering every time you do it.  The opposing belief that Christians have is that “God wants you to be happy” thereby avoiding suffering by making decisions that would secure temporary happiness within relationships, occupations, and every other area of life.  The lie of Satan in America today is that Christians have entered into a time of peace where they isolate themselves from the world and believe in Him and have a “good life”.  The problem with that is other people are going to hell while we enjoy the “good life” of peace.  If we were spreading the gospel we would be suffering and the “good life” would still be “good”…just not by the world’s standards.  It would be “good” because we would know that we are in God’s will and getting closer to entering into His presence one day.

The reason there is misunderstanding about suffering and happiness as Christians is because God truly does want everyone to be happy.  He wants everyone to be blessed beyond their wildest dreams, but the lie that Christians buy into is that God is speaking about situational happiness when he is actually referring to the happiness that comes with sharing in the suffering that comes with faith in Jesus Christ–because faith in Jesus will cost you everything that this world has to offer.

CONCEPT 1–  Pleasing God often means upsetting people.

Galatians 1:10 –  For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ. (HCSB)

Our beliefs in God are in direct opposition to the wisdom of the natural world.  Everything that a Christian stands for is revealed by God and cannot be comprehended and obeyed by someone who has not submitted their will to the one and only God of all creation. Why? Because people will always try to take the path in life that preservers their flesh when they are not being coerced to behave in a way contrary to their individual will.  When the Bible talks about “the flesh” it is speaking about a person’s humanity–their bodies, their emotions, and their will.  People do whatever it takes to experience daily happiness, but situational happiness is never guaranteed to correlate with  God’s will.  When we tell  people that faith in God means releasing control of our lives and relying on God alone for happiness we are not celebrated.  As Christians we have the responsibility of revealing the truth of God to all people regardless of how they respond to it.  Telling people that there is only one God–Jesus Christ–and that loving people though they mistreat us is one of the key aspects of Christianity, is not popular.  Living to love others is not popular.  People talk about wanting to serve others in the secular world, but when people who reject Jesus serve others they are not doing it out of a compulsion to glorify God–which matters in the end.  I will always celebrate people doing good, even if they do not believe in God.  But for their own sake, if they do not believe that Jesus is God, then I am compelled to convince them that they should submit their lives to that fact and experience forgiveness of their life of rebellion against Him because in the end their good deeds will have passed and they still have to answer to God for what they have done wrong.  Living to help others see that unless they repent from their own selfish lives and live for Jesus and live to love others, is not popular.  Especially when we assert that a lack of doing so will wind up with them being to sent to an eternal hell apart from the one and only God.

I pray that every believer would remember that being a slave of Christ means to only live out of the revelations that come from God and that each Christian would stop abiding by the wisdom of this world and mixing worldly concepts with Godly ones.  Additionally, that each Christian would embrace the idea that rejecting worldly concepts will result in suffering through emotional pain, physical pain, and a lowly view of us in the eyes of the world.

 

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