Monday, March 1, 2010

Suffering in the Western Church

In a response to his previous post on the Big Issues Facing the Western Church, Tim Keller responds with to one area where we as a church are severly deficient:

We must develop a far better theology of suffering. Members of churches in the west are caught absolutely flat-footed by suffering and difficulty. This is a major problem, especially if we are facing greater 'liminality'--social marginalization--and maybe more economic and social instability. There are a great number of books on 'why does God allow evil?' but they mainly are aimed at getting God off the hook with impatient western people who believe God's job is to give them a safe life. The church in the west must mount a great new project--of producing a people who are prepared to endure in the face of suffering and persecution.

Here, too, is one of the ways we in the west can connect to the new, growing world Christianity. We tend to think about 'what we can do for them.' But here's how we let them do something for us. Many or most of the church in the rest of the world is used to suffering and persecution. They have a kind of faith that does not wilt, but rather grows stronger under threat. We need to become students of theirs in this area.

This gives us much food for thought. We need to dig in and partake of the Bread of Life when suffering comes are way. We need to have courage and face are worst foes. Life is usually not about enjoyment, more often it is about suffering and we need to provide the means for a sinful world to see its Saviour.

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