Tuesday, 26 August 2008

But who in their right mind goes looking for pain...?

This morning I was reading an article on the legacy that Joel Edwards will have left on the Evangelical Alliance.  A quote from him stood out at me:

It's very easy for the Church to co-exist with society as opposed to being embroiled in its pain.  Experiencing this suffering changes the way we pray and the way we preach and alters our view of the world from a stained glass window.

It should be no surprise that Rev. Edwards makes this observation.  The church is made up of people and people don't make a habit of going looking for pain, especially emotional pain.

Many in our world (including many in the church) use their prosperity to shield themselves from much of the madness and chaos, but even if they do succeed, no-one can buy their way out of meaninglessness. 

No one will embrace pain unless they are sure that at its end, the prize won is worth the suffering.  So how do we embroil ourselves in this pain in a meaningful way and not in a way that ends up destroying us?  (This statement assumes of course that you are like me and have not yet suffered much.  Others of you have already experienced/are experiencing pain the like of which I can only imagine.)

Jesus was more human than I am and what's mind-blowing about that is that he went looking for pain.  Whenever it was that the Son of God chose to obediently suffer in order to redeem a fallen world from then on until the second coming he chose and continues to choose to embrace and embroil himself in pain.

The superhero figures of our our cultural imagination like Spiderman and Batman enter that pain and moral grey and live in a strange mental world that borders on a crippling self-doubt and insanity (I am guessing)  because there appears to be no hope of an end to evil and suffering, only ever constant struggle, (Yin and Yang, birth and rebirth etc., very Eastern in its philosophy)

That's why Jesus is such good news!   He didn't go mad in the face of pain and suffering, he conquered pain and suffering by entering into it and destroying it from within.  He became the curse that he might destroy the curse.  And now, for those who receive the life he offers, there will be strength to endure to the end of what can seem like a fruitless struggle against pain and suffering.  And afterwards there will be unadulterated pleasure with Him in the New Creation for ever.

The only way to meaningfully deal with human evil and universal chance and embrace pain without allowing it all to to drive you mad is to embrace it like Jesus.  

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