Have you ever asked yourself the question, why do Christians suffer? Many do. In fact, I was involved in a group discussion not too long ago where a young lady became very hostile towards God and Christianity because of all the ‘suffering’ that exists in today’s world. We’re generally asking one of two questions: “Why?” or “Why me?”
But the suffering of man is less about God and more about where we “start” from. In 2 Corinthians 3:14 Paul talks about how the minds of the children of Israel were blinded…that there was a veil that exists until this day that has been done away with in Christ. Because we begin on the blind side of the veil, we have to learn this new way of Christ. We have to “see”, or know, our way out.
The mind renewal process of the Believer is an interesting thing. It’s all about submission. All about the willingness to give oneself over to a changing of the guards: the guards being God’s Original Word, and Satan’s perversion of it. As we submit to ripping ourselves from old mindsets, there is a natural circumstantial pain that accompanies this because Believers are living sacrifices, first and foremost.
Romans 12:1 I beseech ye therefore brethren that by the mercies of God ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.
Living sacrifices are most apt to remove themselves from the altar because of the pain of change. If we look at sin as mindsets and ways of being born of our association with our cultural environments & the people in them, we ARE all totally sin when we come to Christ. Yes, this sin is covered when we come into relationship with Him, but it’s not removed. The removal of man’s sin happens through the surgical act of presenting our bodies (the temple of our imperfect soul, or mindset) to a HOLY GOD Who in turn guides us in love through the process of looking more and more like Him as opposed to the sinful world He’s delivered us out of.
And we can’t painlessly rip sin from our souls anymore than we can painlessly rip an arm from our bodies. It’s attached. It’s grown into the being. So even though we are called perfect beings after we come to Christ, there’s still much junk to clear away. God is ‘calling those things that be not as though they were’, so to speak . When He looks upon us, He ‘sees’ us through the Blood of Jesus. He’s chosen to see us as righteous vessels…that’s the mercy Paul was talking about in Romans 12:1… It’s the mercy of God that’s even given us the opportunity to come as filthy vessels into His presence to cry Abba Father. Without His loving decision to see us as holy, He couldn’t help us clean the filth.
Salvation is a gift of God through Christ first… Secondly, after it’s received, it becomes Christ’s yoke, the burden we’re asked to take up and be followers of Him. You mean, a Good God would give His children a burden to carry? Yes. And praise be to God that He has.
Matthew 10:24 The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his Lord. Then again in Luke 6:40: The disciple is not above his Master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his Master.
Jesus Christ surely suffered for the sake of His earthly calling…suffered unworthily because He had no sin. How much more should we, being the sinful objects of His suffering, be willing to suffer for His Name’s sake? For every deliverance we’re willing to fight for after receipt of the gift of salvation?
Matthew 10:38 And he that takes not his cross and follows after me is not worthy of me.
Nothing is free. There’s a price to pay for every worthy thing. And although we don’t pay upfront for being chosen by God as the blessed ones who call on Christ’s Name, there is certainly a payment due once we determine to follow His instruction to free ourselves from the effects of sinful oppression, to be the mind renewed heirs, not just of salvation, but also of its effects which is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Galatians 5:22-24 tells us these attributes are the components of a crucified flesh of which there is no law against.
Crucifixion of the flesh is its own pain. But we, who call Christ our Lord & Master, submit anyway knowing that everything of the flesh is displeasing to God (Romans8:8).
Here’s a piece from a poem in Slow Running Honey:
I watch the moths eat away at my soul. I thought to shoo them away but the Whisper told they were devouring the heavy parts that have weighed in as anchor all these years, stoking me to the ground of my sea. Bid them, my Lord, eat faster at least because the leaving is still attached to the life, and this process is most painful. (For Want of Daddy, p.48)
The only way our becoming like God would bear us no pain, is if we’d never been separated from Him in the first place. If we’d never been ‘like’ anything else. As is stands now, Christianity (the pursuit of Christ-likeness) has to hurt. Otherwise, He’s not our Lord…. Otherwise, who is?