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Suffering On Level 5

By heath - Posted on 27 March 2006

Last week in my sunday school class we talked about how we as American evangelicals rarely think about or long for the second coming of Christ. I think this is because we have largely fulfilled our needs through technological advance. The only suffering we consistently face is the suffering of being denied needs of Maslow's upper levels. And, psychologists and pharmocologists are trying to solve these problems through various methods.

Granted people still die, and many suffer with various diseases, but the constant threat of death and hunger are largely absent from our minds. We have recently been watching episodes of Little House on the Prairie. Death and hunger were almost constantly knocking. Suffering was real and imminent. It was more a question of when than if.

I can't help but think of the millions that live in unimaginable conditions of filth and hunger. I think of the thousands that die of malaria because they don't have $5 mosquito nets to sleep under. These people are longing for the salvation of the body. They understand an aspect of the salvation that Christ came to give that we do not. In fact, we may fail to understand the gospel when we interpret it in terms of mere self-actualization.

Our success in eradicating many forms of suffering increases our confidence that it is only a matter of time before we solve all problems of suffering. It is this confidence that makes it hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of heaven. In addition, scripture virtually guarantees suffering. Christ himself predicts that his disciples will suffer because if the world hated him, it will also hate us. It almost makes me wonder what we are doing wrong that we are not more hated. I wonder if the yeast of the worldliness has so worked its way through the dough of the church that we are no longer offensive. This could only mean that our churches fail to preach the radical gospel of free merit.

Christ preached that merit can be obtained with no work at all. He offered his own body to pay my debt. He offered a perfect life to merit my reward. Very few things are more offensive than elevating the outcasts of a society. It flies in the face of the values of a society and often provokes anger from the highest and lowest of social orders. These kinds of rules are not made to be broken. Christ broke these rules when he touched the leper, forgave the adulteress, talked with the woman at the well, welcomed the children, and ate with the tax collectors and prostitutes.

Who are those people in our society? Do we have what it takes to live as Christ? If we have truly believed, we do. His Holy Spirit lives in us, and pries the cold dead fingers of our flesh from the idols of this world. Our new life in Christ reaches out to those for whom Christ came; that is, those who have need.

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