Sunday, December 15, 2013

Suffering and Growth -- 1 Peter 4:12-13

 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. -- 1 Peter 4:12-13 (NIV)

We talked about this passage this morning, and I had a thought or two on the discussion. Now this is not a deep treatise on the problem of pain or the nature of suffering. Just a few thoughts.

I'm wondering about how to "rejoice" as I participate in suffering. My general policy toward suffering is that it's something to be carefully avoided. I spend a lot of my time arranging my life to avoid pain and suffering in one way or another. Most of the advice I gave my children as they were growing up could be seen as a commentary on avoiding suffering in their lives. Even in the midst of the inevitable suffering that comes, the last thing on my mind is rejoicing.

It seems to me that the rejoicing might occur later, after I have survived the trial. Then I can sometimes look back and see how God used the pain to build me up or to prune off some harmful parts.

I wonder if we're harmed by the pain-avoidance we've all learned growing up. We're taught to avoid suffering in our own lives, to alleviate it in the lives of others, and avoid causing even small offenses that might cause pain.

Might the church be healthier if life were a bit more painful?

I don't think I want to know.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Beginnings - Genesis 1:1-3:24

A lot of people set out in January to read through the Bible. Many get bogged down in February or March and never finish. I have done the same thing on several occasions with mixed results, sometimes finishing, sometimes not. This year you'll all get to see how far I get!

Genesis is of course about beginning. The thing that strikes me today is how pleasant everything was in Eden to start with. God created everything just right, carefully making it all work together as it should. What a contrast to our world where little if anything seems to work together. It's easy to blame Adam for messing things up, or blame Eve for leading him astray, or blame the serpent for tempting them...and they do blame each other this way. The truth is, we can't have true freedom without accepting the consequences of our own mistakes, and the mistakes of others. Without the ability to sin, the choice to love God is missing also. God really did create everything just as he intended.