Archive for the ‘Persecuted Church’ Category

Set aside to suffer

A great montage from a message by John Piper on the Christian and suffering. Could it be that the American dream and the prosperity gospel preached and believed by so many is robbing the gospel of its power and the church of her place in our culture.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Piper does an excellent job in demonstrating that scripture is filled with the call to suffer by those who are followers of Jesus Christ. My next post will deal with several of the texts that Piper referred to.

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The place of suffering in the life of the follower of Christ

A while back I made the statement that at times ministry could be tough. Well it can; however, it is not that ministry itself is tough,yet often times the simple circumstances of ministry.

Ministry in its basic component is demonstrating the life of Jesus to people throughout the stages and events of their lives. There are often times that involve seasons of suffering in the lives of those you love and serve. I cannot ‘minister’ to people when I myself am not exhibiting Christ likeness in my daily walk and my daily life. They need to see Jesus in me and not me myself, in fact, I really have little to offer. This past week has certainly given me the opportunity to do just that. I am not going to go into it and those close to me will know what I am talking about, but there has simply been many in our church and in my life that are undergoing a time of suffering. Now suffering defined is simply

an individual’s basic effective experience of unpleasantness and aversion associated with harm or threat of harm or pain of some sort.

Suffering however for the Christian, although not necessarily exempt from the above definition, encompasses so much more. Suffering for the follower of Christ is that place where we experience the hurt and pain of life, but for the believer it is always through the shared experience of our Savior. Jesus was a man who suffered. He suffered through the pain of incarnation. He suffered in his life. He was born in a time of great suffering. He suffered from rejection. He suffered in the garden. He suffered at the effects of the thorns and the whip. He suffered with the pain of the nails. He suffered on the cross. He suffered separation from His Father. Jesus was a man of suffering. What is ironic is that through His life of suffering Jesus also was a man of joy. Somehow Jesus in the midst of suffering found a place of joy and peace .

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.—Hebrews 12:2

I am known for saying, “We are never more like Jesus than when we suffer” and I mean it. However, who in the world WANTS TO SUFFER?  It is like David Crowder said in one of his songs; ‘Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die’ Amen!

Yet, in many ways I believe the follower of Jesus is called to suffering. I do not believe we go out and find it. I believe it will find us! As I have said, this has been true this past week for me as I have come face to face with suffering in the lives of people who are followers of Jesus Christ. It is my prayer that I have not shrunk from the reality and necessity of it, but that I have helped them take it head on through the love of God, the wisdom of His Word and the fellowship of His people.

My next few posts are going to deal with suffering in the life of the believer. The various aspects it can take and maybe why we in the western church do such a poor job in responding to it. I hope to address suffering in other nations, the persecuted church, and suffering here in America. When I am through I hope we will have a new and fresh approach to suffering in the life of the believer. Suffering, hurt and pain…we do not need to go and find it, however we need to know that eventually, one day, often when it’s least expected… it will find us.

And that’s ok…

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