Posted by: dowsmallgroups | 04/08/2010

Suffering Christians

Listening to some evangelical preachers we can get an interesting take on Christianity. As with many Jews at the time of Christ these preachers see success in material things as a measure of God’s blessing and love. The corollary, of course, is that poverty is a consequence of sin and God’s removal of his blessing. Likewise, disability – it has been suggested – is a sign of God’s disfavour or even anger. This notion of a ‘prosperity’ bible runs up against the example of history and the Bible itself.

Being a disciple of Christ is no guarantee of a life without pain and suffering. Christ’s disciples – Peter, Paul, Stephen and others – met with martyrs’ deaths. Even Mary, sinless, immaculate, ‘blessed among women’ knew homelessness, social mistrust over her teenage pregnancy, fleeing murderous intent becoming an asylum seeker in Egypt. she saw her only son humiliated and cruelly executed. In the end, however, she saw her son rise from the dead and fully participated in the nascent Church until the time of her assumption.

Poverty, disability, suffering are not alien to us, they are part of the human condition. How we deal with them, helping ourselves and others, is part of the Christian life. Embracing these things, sanctifying (making holy) our lives is our goal not merely success in the material or temporal sphere. For something to reflect on have a read of the Song of Hannah (1 Samuel 2:1-10) which is echoed by Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55):

Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.

‘There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth;for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.

The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.

‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.’

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Responses

  1. I think this verse fits nicely into your theme:

    Luke 13:4-5 “those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”


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