Friday, March 20, 2015

Unity in Suffering

 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. Revelation 7:9

God created humans to inhabit a unique realm of responsibility and perception. We are responsible for our physical bodies, our physical property and what they affect on a day to day basis. Yet at the same time we are aware of and can perceive the spiritual realm. That brings us a responsibility to eternal things as well. God thankfully came to earth as a human and modeled how to live successfully in these areas. His life and death, seen from a physical perspective, could be regarded as a failure. He taught, performed miracles, was captured and killed by the Roman state. The end. But seen from the spiritual realm his was a life of perfect obedience to God and the eternal world.  

Counter to everything that the physical world tells us, Jesus' and our suffering is ultimately a good thing. I say this because Jesus' life points us to a pattern of living that regards suffering as a means to an end. This is not to say that he sought out suffering or that we should, but that he lived life directed toward changing this world and that meant conflict with the ruler of this world, Satan. 

Our lives are to be lived this way as well. In conflict with and sometimes in exact opposition to our own pleasure. This world directs all its aims toward the ultimate goal, an early retirement and plenty of money to enjoy it. But who does this kind of living benefit? At best the immediate family of those who achieve such goals, at worst only the people who succeed. This kind of living is so focused inward that in some cases it kills off or estranges most people who get in the way. Just look at the lives of some billionaires, they get the money they want, but at the expense of many of their relationships.

But God wants us to live outward and living outward involves suffering. It involves giving, extensively of ourselves, sometimes to the point of death. Who does this benefit? At worst everyone we've ever met, at best, the whole world. 

Being a suffering servant unifies us with "every nation, tribe, people and language" (Rev 7:9). We go out, we live out, and we act out of love to whoever is in need and no one is left abandoned. Every people group on earth appreciates this kind of living because it is how God designed us to live; to emulate the persons of the Trinity, who live eternally in unified servant-hood to each other. 

1. What are some things you can change to live more in line with our God, who was willing to suffer?
2. Is it possible to have both? A life lived for others and yourself?
3. Is living life for eternity viable for every person?

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