The idea of suffering as part of the Christian faith is not that popular. In fact as a new Christian when I found out that martyrdom was a 'spiritual gift' that some Christians were 'blessed' to have in one of those 'find your gifting courses' I was incredibly reassured by a line that said that veryt few people in Gods family were 'blessed' with this gift. All joking aside, Modern day Western Christianity often has a hard time fitting suffering into its theology. Due to the incredible uprise of the Prosperity gospel it is seen as necessary for one to have 'health, wealth and success' in order for one to be a successful Christian.

Jesus clearly taught that his followers would endure suffering most obviously his sacrifice but also read through the sermon on the mount, this was part of his call of being an obedient follower of Christ (Matthew 5)

I wonder if Western Christians are a bit like the reciepients of the book of Hebrews.

Some of the things the reciepients of the Hebrews had were a great liking for the Old testament ( a bit like prosperity followers) and also some deep seated conscience issues to follow the 'right way' even though had a very skewed idea on what this was (even though it was well supported with some out of context bible verses) .

They had lost how suffering fitted into Faith and got side tracked into a whole lot of frivalous stuff (some of it with the best of intentions) that they thought would take them closer to God.

This led the author of the book to say this to them and I think they are very good words to ponder:

Hebrews 10
32Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

I wonder when was the last time you ever heard a sermon on suffering / read an article on it?

Have we disconnected suffering from our contemporary theology or do we only speak about it on special occasions? If suffering is a daily occasion for the persecuted church, how come we hear very little of it in the western church?

3 thoughts - add yours!:

  1. Rebel Heart Says:

    Tell you what the worst part is, if you ever listen to Radio Rhema on Sunday nights during their 9-11 prayer shows it focuses completely on sending Christians who call in with their prayer requests on suffering to counselors... Ugh.

  2. Lisa Says:

    Do you see counselling as bad?

    Can you expand a bit?

    I think I know where you are going but I don't want to assume

  3. Rebel Heart Says:

    i can't remember what i was thinking when i wrote that comment, but i just find it annoying that Brenda is always referring people on to counseling, like a lot of people call in to say they HAVE been to counselors and that their counselors didn't help but Brenda has so much faith in them she blames it on the sufferer and says stuff like it's because "you didn't give counseling a proper chance" or that they're not doing it right or something

    like counseling is fine and stuff but it's definitely a 'Western' thing and Churches are so focused on it now as if it's the one shoe fits all solution. if you have a problem at Church they refer you on to counselors - it's no longer about laying down your life to help your brother (1 John 16 - pastors say stuff like: "we can't help you anymore, if you're not going to go get counseling and help yourself we can't help you"). it's really dumb because it's a really recent thing and all you need to do is look at counseling and celebrities to know that counseling isn't really always the solution

    anyhow, didn't mean to rant but nowadays i find myself (and this is just my opinion) i listen to the prayer requests, then as soon as Brenda speaks i turn the volume right down 'cos i know what she's gonna say (and i know how she will pray: "Lord we pray [insert-name-here] will go see a counselor") and just pray for the person myself and turn the radio back up after she's stopped talking to hear the next prayer request