Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Suffering and Missions

Several factors have coincided in recent weeks to cause me to reflect on the contented obesity and apathy of so many American professing Christians. One of those factors is reading Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions by John Piper. Chapter 3, "The Supremacy of God in Missions Through Suffering," has been particularly rebuking to me. Here are a few statements that were most poignant to me:
[Concerning Matthew 13:44] The extent of his sacrifice and the depth of his joy display the worth he puts on the treasure of God. Loss and suffering, joyfully accepted for the kingdom of God, show the supremacy of God’s worth more clearly in the world than all worship and prayer. (p. 71)*

The domestication of cross-bearing into coughs and cranky spouses takes the radical thrust out of Christ’s call. (p. 74)

We must not water down the call to suffer. We must not domesticate the New Testament teaching on affliction and persecution just because our lives are so smooth. (p. 76)

Christ died for us so that we would not have to die for sin, not so that we would not have to die for others . . . The call to suffer with Christ is not a call to bear our sins the way he bore them but to love the way he loved. (p. 77)

If he must, God will use the suffering of his devoted emissaries to make a sleeping church wake up and take risks for God.(p. 90)

Comfort and ease and prosperity and safety and freedom often cause a tremendous inertia in the church. (p. 95) [This quote reminded me of a comment I heard some time ago from a godly parent who had sent a child off to a Christian college who was grateful because the child was "safe and happy." The comment was well-intentioned, but I wonder if it betrays the temptation towards a subtle acceptance of a love for this world.]

God ordains suffering because through all the other reasons it displays to all the world the supremacy of His worth above all treasures . . . Suffering with joy proves to the world that our treasure is in heaven, not on earth, and that this treasure is greater than anything the world has to offer. The supremacy of God’s worth shines through the pain that his people will gladly bear for his name. (p. 99)

What proves that the giver is precious is the glad-hearted readiness to leave all his gifts to be with him. (p. 101)

God is calling us to be conduits of his grace, not cul-de-sacs. Our great danger today is thinking that the conduit should be lined with gold. It shouldn’t. Copper will do. No matter how grateful we are, gold will not make the world think that our God is good; it will make people think that our God is gold. That is no honor to the supremacy of his worth. (p. 102)

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. And the supremacy of that glory shines most brightly when the satisfaction that we have in him endures in spite of suffering and pain in the mission of love. (p. 107)
*Page numbers taken from the second edition.

1 comment:

Sojourner said...

That book changed my life.