Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The grief integral to full faith allegiance in Christ

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash
FALSE truths and half-faiths there are plenty of in the Christian walk; both as far as dogmas and lived-out varieties are concerned. John Stott was right when he said that heresy is the over-emphasis on some truth without allowing other truths to qualify and balance it. (And this article will no doubt feature such an imperfect mix of truth!)
One of Christianity’s operational heresies is a faith that negates the need to endure suffering well. It’s understandable. No human being gets ‘saved’ into a faith that is centrally about suffering well. Many conversions to Christ are done solely on a good news premise that neglects to mention the many warnings biblical writers recorded for us.
Little wonder we don’t know what hit us when an avalanche of spiritual problems beset us in the faith. And, then again, such mentions of warning are irrelevant until later when we actually experience them maybe for the first time. And yet, that’s when it’s hardest of all; to respond to crises meekly.
Faith is hardest of all when a crisis hits,
yet to endure it meekly is wisdom.
This is proof of faith.
The Bible isn’t just talking culturally — Old and New Testament times being hard for the people of God as they were — when it talks about enduring suffering well.
The need to endure trials is a life concept that applies to every era of history.
Here is one solid premise of the ‘set apart’ (holy) life of the children of God:
“If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.”
— 1 Peter 2:20 (NRSV)
This verse presupposes that we’re doing the right thing. Christians, as far as it depends on us, are supposed to be doing the right things. (I know, there are plenty of times when we’re in the wrong, too, and we also must concede we acknowledge we’re sinners.)
It also presupposes that even in doing the right thing we will suffer; but never in vain. We have God’s approval, which we necessarily need to remind ourselves is something we can only know by faith. Accepting that God applauds our endurance means our faith has power.
The result of suffering well, or enduring, when we do what is right, and keep doing it, is we experience a godly grief that has to wrestle, and come to peace, with being unjustly treated. It’s primary to our allegiance to Christ. We identify with the Lord and He identifies with us when we endure unjust treatment.
This means we will inevitably and regularly be wronged, betrayed, and violated, as well as experiencing disappointment, broken dreams, and unanswered prayers. Life will pulverise us at times. And only then, when we’re forlorn in lament, is there the opportunity for sanctification through grieving our losses. Grieving is for growth unto acceptance, knowing with zero doubt that God is good despite it all.
There is a key difference between Christians and those who don’t yet believe: suffering has purpose for the Christian. Such a concept is ludicrous to those without faith.
Smallness in the Christian life is such an important reality, because that’s what life is truly about. Mastering the little things.

Grief is a pivotal and transforming aspect of a Christian’s growing up in the faith of acceptance.

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