Sunday, 21 April 2013

A thought on Christian Suffering

“Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.”
  -- Job's wife (Job 2:9)

It isn't just Christians who experience suffering in this world. Most definitely not. But what makes the Christian suffering different from the sufferings of others, of other religions or atheists?

Taking a superficial look at the Christians in suffering, you may suggest that Christians suffer "better" than the non-Christians. That is to say, Christians will (or should) do the good and decent thing even when personal tragedies strike them. We are told and expected, as Christians, to do the right thing even when bad things happen to us. Of course, we as Christians strive for that, and we do have countless amazing examples. But, just doing the right thing, doing the moral, courageous, and loving thing isn't necessarily what makes the suffering distinctly Christian. After all, many non-Christian parents live sacrificially and lovingly towards their disabled child. Many non-Christians remain married and be faithful to their quite unlovable spouse. Many non-Christians, stricken with terrible injuries or diseases, live a strong life, not filled with bitterness, and become quite an inspiration for many others.

No, simply "suffering well", however heroic it may be, cannot make it Christian. The most basic and essential ingredient of "Christian suffering" has to do with Who, rather than What or How. When we go through suffering, who exactly do we suffer it with? Is it just by yourself, or mere human beings you share it with? Or are you going through your suffering with God? We don't have to look so strong and be stoic about our suffering. We don't have to have all the right words to say and know the best thing to do when we suffer. We don't have to somehow leave a large biography inspiring millions after we overcome suffering. Most important factor is that we remain relient to our Heavenly Father who knows what He is doing.

Are you in pain or turmoil at the moment? Do you feel like you won't make it through today? This hour? Have you had enough of being nice about everything? Remain in God. Tell Him all your frustrations and fears. Voice your anger and despair to Him. And stay with Him. God will repay for all your suffering one day. He will vindicate you on that Great Day.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Practical Impact of the Doctrine of the Authority of the Scriptures

The Need to be Obedient to ScriptureIf God has revealed himself and his purposes to us in Jesus Christ as he is known to us through all the Scriptures, then clearly we are under a total obligation to submit our lives to the teaching of the Bible. It is a particular temptation of student life to imagine that truth is for the mind alone; but for Scripture 'knowing the truth' implies living it out in particular situations. In the OT, truth is primarily a moral quality implying the characteristic of dependability or faithfulness in action (e.g. Ps. 51:6). This understanding is expressed also in John's concern for doing the truth (Jn. 3:21, 1 Jn. 1:6). So this final section is integral to the exposition of the Christian doctrine of authority, for Christian truth in the deepest sense exists only where there is a mind which is set both to understand it and to obey it. If our passion for truth does not imply a passion for obedience to truth, then we are not really serious about it.
  In the end the doctrine of the authority is eminently practical. It confronts us with a specific challenge: to obey all that the Bible teaches, all of the time. Nothing could be more searching or down to earth than that.
  - p. 66, Know the Truth by Bruce Milne (italics original)