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Paul talks about suffering as being a gift Philippians 1:29 that accompanies our belief in Christ. To suffer is about apart of our ministry and calling.
"Churches committed to programs can grow numerically, but they don't nurture biblical Christians who understand the implications of belonging to the body of Christ." This is altogether too true of the church today. The church is too concerned with power and growth financially and numerically. Of course one wants the church to grow numerically, if those numbers truly reflect the amount of souls and hearts that are trandformed to Jesus. Growth for the skae of growth is a lie to ourselves and the people around us. If we labor for months and one live is saved for Jesus should we not rejoice for that one the same no matter what the circumstances?
As to the idea of suffering, I think we must see suffering as two fold. We must see the suffering of the unredeemed world different from the suffering of a witness to Christ. As Sarah's comment just below expresses, God does not necessarily want for people to suffer. That is why we are called to do Jesus' minisrty of healing and freeing people from bondage and oppression. But in doing so, the ones who witness to Christ will suffer and be persecuted. As one's suffering is alleviated another may have to endure. Sound familiar? Jesus endured the pain of our transgressions to save us. As disciples of Christ, we may need to endure pain, persecution, and suffering in order to free others from their's.
Thank you so much for this Mr. Fernando. While I'm sure that the suffering and frustration that I've witnessed and experienced as a Christian in the United States in minuscule compared to what you deal with, it's a huge encouragement to hear your opinion on it. It seems like I often get the message that if a person or ministry is suffering, or having technical or financial troubles, then it is because they are doing something wrong and should change the error in their ways in order to be "blessed." I've always felt that this was not true, but it is tiring to hear again and again. So thank you again for this article.
I agree completely with what this article has to say about suffering. Christians are not to avoid or fear suffering. How un-Christlike! If we are truly following Christ we will embrace suffering the way he did, with joy and gladness. For the sake of the lost and the glory of the Father, Jesus became the suffering servant, taking on all sin and pain. As his imitators, we can expect to partake in his suffering, becoming like him in his death, and through that exercise to know the power of his resurrection.
Kathleen Devine Linnen
I am trying to obtain admission to Hosanna Bible Training Center. Through prayer and fasting my childhood "want" is still in my heart, and after reading this article the want is there even more. My dilemma: I am 54yrs old and disabled but I do believe in healing which the Lord has been working miracles in me, physically and especially spiritually. Am I too old to do missionary work? I know I can evanglize anywhere but I have felt Akron Oh. is not enough, I want more. I know the Lord's will be done in the final desicion but would like feedback on my question.
There is physical, spiritual, and emotional suffering. I would say the most painful
suffering was similar to Jesus's when He wept over Jerusalem. When we are helpless
in witnessing to the lost............we need to pray that the Holy Spirit would open their
hearts, minds, and eyes to accept Jesus Christ. God doesn't send people to Hell, they
chose to go there. We can only let God use us to the best of our ability.........plant
the seed, and perhaps another will see the harvest.
At the risk of sounding academic, is this not whhat lies behind Luther's "Theology of the Cross" and his opposition to a "theology of glory". It is also seen in his concept of the "hidden God".- where was God when Jesus hung on the cross? Right there, doing his greatest work!
Thank you brother for reminding us all of the truth of God's word.
This understanding of suffering and vocation really rubs me the wrong way. I do understand that we feel closer to God when we are suffering, however that is not a valid argument for suggesting that you are not an adequate or faithful Christian if you are not suffering (enough?), carrying your Cross. I believe there are times when that suffering may be involved in witnessing to others the gospel of Jesus Christ. I DO NOT believe that God wants for His people to suffer. If that were the case, why would Jesus have bothered to heal the sick and the lame. Were those who were healed less close to God in that moment because they were no longer suffering? Nothing in the parables suggest that at all. There is too much suffering in the world and I understand the gospel to be the balm that heals our wounds. Granted, there are parts of the world where people suffer for their witness. But, we are not called to suffer so that we may boast. We suffer because that is the effect of sin in the world.
Cody C. Lorance
A profound and insightful article. The recent Lausanne Blogger Network Interview with Ajith was even more so. "Ajith Fernando: Toward a Theology of Frustration and Fatigue" can be seen here:
I want to commend Ajith Fernando's very searching little booklet on spiritual leadership called AN AUTHENTIC SERVANT (Didasko Files series). It is just 24 pages long - a radical and a from-the-heart call for Christians to see spiritual leadership as cross-centred and sacrificial .
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