Posts Tagged suffering
So also Christ did not glorify himself in becoming a high priest, but was appointed by the one who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and having been made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, having been designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek. [NRSV]
In reading this passage we find no parable or stories, no historical travel plans to orient or date the occasion. This is part of a larger lesson or even sermon about Jesus Christ.
The book is called Hebrews and was most likely written by someone who had excellent writing skills in Greek, who knew the Greek version of the Old Testament but was not so concerned about Jesus being the messiah as much as Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the Most High.
The audience seems to be those who might have a mental understanding of Jesus as the Christ, but lack a motivation to have relationship with the Christ. The heart of the book seems to be 4:14 “Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession.”
- Jesus who has been made perfect, [whole] for our brokenness.
- Jesus becomes our source for salvation.
- We connect to this source through obedience.
- With obedience, we can expect suffering.
- Through suffering we can expect to find Christ.
- Therefore, Trust the Jesus with all things.
- In suffering, joy and eternity
So let’s get to the trouble spot: Obey?!
To obey is to respond in direct relation to command, instructions, or restrictions.
WHY? Would we give up our will to choose God’s?
The resume’ of resume’s
- Christ was appointed by God for you and me
- Christ’s kingdom is eternal one, high priest of the order of Melchizedek.
- Christ who suffered for you and me, died and lives for our benefit
- Christ modeled the power of obedience as child of God
- Christ connects us to God as children of God, joint heirs
Bottom line: in a world that is tearing countries, families and lives apart. We need to know our Savior is near!
Melchizedek is this mystical priest that shows up with Abram in the midst of a 4 nations against 5 nations battle, when the larger forces raid one of the nations in the night, Abram takes his trained special force folks at night and brings back the people/families, animals and other possessions and returns them to the king who was defeated. For Abram’s since of justice and restoration, King “Mel” shows up, offers up bread and wine and blesses Abram for his graciousness. (Sound familiar?)
Abram is lead by the creed of grace and is blessed.
It is through the same priesthood that Jesus the Christ is sent by God to give us grace and to bless us in a world that is dividing families and nations and resources.
Why do we obey Jesus?
- Because he has come to us as a Son
- He has suffered for our benefit
He has come to bless us who are fighting and divided
Who needs to hear about Obeying Jesus
- Those who would run from such a request.
- Those who have not hear or have lost faith that Jesus coming to suffer has anything to do with us now
- Those who might have heard but don’t see the personal benefit Jesus affords us.
- Those who are closed to seeing and experiencing the blessing of following, trusting and obeying THE highest of priest. The one who came to seek and save the lowest and the greatest. Me and you.
The Greatest Threat: is to Obey ourselves in the name of God or in the place of God. (don’t fool yourself, God or anyone else)
This week: Break bread and bless someone this week. Remind them that Jesus died and lives for them and the suffering that threatens their life and joy.
This week: Break bread and bless someone this week. Remind them that Jesus died and lives for them and the suffering that threatens their life and joy.
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him. [NRSV]
Suffering: Physical Suffering for a Spiritual Purpose: The Lenten Season
Jesus’ prime example is suffering death on the cross, exchanging his life for our life.
Peter’s instructions DON’T LIST
- Don’t give up, even when tempted, tested and tired
- Don’t be afraid, even though there are things, powers and people to fear
DO BE DO BE DO…
- Do have patience in suffering for Christ
- Be ready to explain your hope
- Do so with kindness
- Keep your conscience clear
- Don’t give in to what broken world dishes out
- Remember Jesus has already suffered for you.
- Return the example, as a RESPONSE to LOVE not a duty.
- SUMMARY OF THE GOSPEL 1PT 3:18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,
CITIZENSHIP: THEREFORE: Live like you are a baptized person..
- live like your saved
- live like God’s Spirit is in you…
- live like Jesus and all power, authority, angels and powers are at your disposal through Christ.
We begin a holy Lenten season of practicing..
We are Baptized, (Claimed, Saved, Empowered and Loved Children of God) Who we are,
We are encouraged by (Suffering in Faithfulness) what God has done through Jesus
The Lenten Test
- If you were a extravagantly generous wealthy person: How would you treat other people
- If you were a passionate lover of God: How would you express your devotion?
- If you were a radical host and friend: How would you welcome a stranger?
- If you were risk-taking servant: How far would you go to help someone who is hurting?
- If you were purposeful and intentional about growing your Spiritual self, What exercises would you do?
If you let yourself off the hook and say none of these are for me, this is the season to pick just one and practice.
Practice trusting Jesus.
Practice telling about our hope in the life Jesus promises.
Practice singing about the Good News that God continues to love us
Practice giving like God’s heart is your heart.
Practice looking at strangers as new best friends
Practice looking at suffering in the world is a place for you to personally plug in and be involved making one-on-one change
Practice your faith OUT LOUD, not just in your mind and not just with your friends and family.
PRACTICE giving power and grace to those who don’t deserve another chance.
is forty days plus Sundays between this past Wednesday and Easter for us to begin practicing what it means to be Easter people, BECAUSE the truth is we are not there yet.
We begin this journey acknowledging this is a journey
- it is not easy
- it is not quick
- it is not over
- it is not fair
- it is vitialy important and
- it is worth the time and faith to try…
5:1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 5:3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. [NRSV]
Paul’s words of encouragement are for times that we recognize the gift of grace and for the times, while we may be living in grace, but do not recognize the neighborhood. God stands with us. Pauls invites us to stand with Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
This is a rich and thick passage:
Justification: The work God has done through Christ that gives us grace.
Boasting in our Hope: Something worth celebrating and worth talking about with others, in the faith and those outside the bounds.
You who are Star Wars fans will remember when Jedi Master Yoda speaks to young Anakin, “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.”
Fear we know! Fear of failure, the unknown, revealing our shame, Storms of winds, emotions and nature: all powers that appear greater than our own.
Paul writes to encourage and remind us of another progression of learning: “suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
The role we have as the church, as the present and living body of Christ is to stand firm in the Power of the Holy Spirit and teach and remind one another not to be lost in our suffering.
Tragic deaths in Oklahoma, London. Rumors of corruptions, deceit, and mis-use of power from our leaders and government. Uncertain times of economic change. Relentless news of Cancers, wars and divisions. We do not have to look far to see and hear news of suffering.
Our prayers are a most often litanies of suffering. If not our own suffering the hurt and fears of the world and those dear to us.
Why do we bring these to the attention of the body? Why share them in church? Is it for us to share a one-up story of who has the worse news or the latest gossip? No. Sometimes people ask me to repeat the concerns lifted up by others, so they can hear the news. I offer to you that it is not for our ears that we share our prayer concerns. It is for the heart of God to hear our suffering. If you want to know what someone said, go ask them after worship, but right now it is God’s time of hearing and receiving.
We share with God to remind ourselves and God that we so desperately and earnestly need the power of God’s Spirit in our lives.
This is the challenge Paul gives to the church in Roman and to us in our hearing of his words:
STAND FIRM in the GRACE God has given us. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
When you and I see and hear suffering, become reminder of the Grace
What is grace: It is God’s loving-kindness given to us, that even while we are filled with sin, fear, anger, and hate.. God gives us the love and life we need and the means to find our way back to the heart of God.
Is there anything that is stronger than God?
Is there anyone more powerful than God?
Is there any place God will not go to save us?
Is there any time God stops loving us and desiring our heart to be in relationship with God’s heart?
Oh, how the world around us needs to hear what we know by heart.
BOAST: Brag! Tell with joyful pride, that Christ has claimed even me, and you, and those who hear our witness!
Could you imagine gives peace to someone who was sad? broken? empty? lonely? afraid? enraged? at the end of their hope?
Simply by sharing with them what gives you peace…
What gives us peace? We may not always use the term or name, but it is God’s Spirit that gives us peace.
We experience it through relationship, creation, song and art, scripture and science, alone and with whole crowds and congregations..
but it is the Holy Spirit that is our peace.. God’s continuing council, presence, power, advocate and strength.
REJOICE: BOAST: Be glad, you are in the Spirit. Tell the hurting and suffering world…
The suffering you have endured has built your character and that new appreciate of a life in Christ is the evidence and power of God’s hope in you.
Have Hope, Share Hope
Have Grace, Share Grace
Have the breath of God, Breath the Good News to all who still suffer.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. [NRSV]
Were Pharaoh’s armies and demands able separate God from God’s people? No! Did God cut off Job at any point? No! Did God stop being God when David and Solomon ruled as kings? No! Did God stop loving Israel when they were driven out of Jerusalem to Babylon? No!
Did a cross separate us from God? No.
Did Pilate, Herod, or Caiaphas separate us from Jesus Christ our Lord?
Did a civil war? or Pearl Harbor? Or Did 9/11 tear God away from us? No!!
Can Presidents, political parties and governments?
Hurricanes, Floods, Fires and Tornados stop God’s love
Can guns, bombs or fear and hatred of any kind keep God from being God?
Then, What in the world do we have to fear?
But God never let’s go of God’s end of the rope.
Tug of War: One side over powers and the other side finally relents and falls down. God never lets go of God’s end of the covenant.
God is faithful in holding on to us.
Nothing will cause God to let go.
Separation is real. Why do people feel so alone in this world?
Why do people hurt each other through domestic violence, political violence, take financial advantage, why would people commit acts of terror if God never let’s go of them?
There is one thing that can separate “us” from God, that is us. God allows room for evil. God allows room for division. God allows room for choice.
Without there is no meaning to life for us or for God. If God made us be good always we would not be human. We would have no relationship.
God allows the horrible to make room for the beautiful.
God allows the famine to appreciate the bounty
God allows terror and fear to make room for trust and peace..
It’s neither appropriate nor accurate for us to blame God for evil.
It is simply part of the dynamics of grace, trust, faith and love.
Can God love someone who values the lives, property and security of communities and nations so little? That is the point. God is grand enough to love prodigal brothers.
If God has room in the heart to hold on to the most evil of folk, then God surely has room for us too.
If God only holds on to the faithful, Lord who would be left.
If God only entrusted those who proved themselves worthy, who would make it?
But how do we deal with the loss, the chaos, the death of trust and lives?
The answer is way too easy… We stand closer to God.
We need to be near God and God’s people and
Take seriously the call to be broadcasting the message of love and hope
-even in the most evil of times.
When we hear of bombs and explosions, think of who search for meaning..
Show them the way, don’t lead them astray.
When we hear of wars, storms and threats of warn, it is time to prepare people to be in a closer walk with God, Who needs to be recued, until we realize we are stranding by a flood… Gather the lost who are trapped and only see it in the tragic light where darkness shines.
If the bombs had gone off in Jackson instead of Boston, what would we hope the people in Boston would be doing today?
Do we hope they would say a little prayer and move on with life trying not to think about the tragic loss? We would want and need more than that!
The folks in Boston and Watertown and West/Waco, and Jackson/Butts Co. need to wake up to the reality that we live in a broken world and need someone who can put the piece together when life is torn apart.
We need a God who knows the pain of nails in broken limbs and torture of a cross to face, endure and survive beyond the chaos.
Did they stop Jesus then? No. Will they stop him now? No. Who will tell and show them? Just one at a time…
One person begin inspired another person to act in terror, we can be one person inspiring another to join Christ in building peace and life and love.