Friday, August 22, 2008

How does a Chrisan Suffer?

This is just some random thought for your consideration. It has been bugging me lately, the issue of 'it is better to suffer for righteousness, we don't have to speak up'. Although that is a noble thought and it depicts a pious attitude is it somewhat 'biblical'?

I would reply by saying that it is half 'biblical' truth. So you might be saying that i am proposing that we retaliate and have fights? No, not at all.

To me, there is something that is lost in understanding how a Christian should carry himself/herself in public. This has been a dilemma in my culture. Christians are depicted as 'nice' people. Sure, nice is a good depiction in some sense, but it should not be that overall depiction of a Christian. To tell you the truth, its a hoax if we subscribe to this world view of being a Christian.

In the context that i am in (Malaysia-Sarawak-Miri-SIB to be frank) a depiction of suffering as a Christian is at most in the context of eating up everything that comes in our way. Say for example being ripped off of ones rights, the way the Christian reacts is they give in, say nothing and say 'it is better to suffer for righteousness'. This is somewhat pathetic to say the very least.

Suffering is always depicted as non-retaliation. Sure i understand that but the non-retaliation is not the same as speaking up if we have valid things to say, be it harsh in a sense that we don't us swear words. What is wrong with that?

I was reading this in 1 Peter 3:17 'It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.' It says what it says when we read it but what goes up in the mind when a person influenced by my cultural context reads it? This is how the person reads it "It is better, because it is always God's will, to suffer for being nice in a way that we don't say out a single thing because if we do so we are fighting , than for us to do evil".

I don't know if you agree with me on this or not but i find it to be prevalent in my culture (for those who happen to read this and is not from Malaysia-Sarawak-Miri-SIB). I mean we have to really read and understand what the WORD is trying to communicate to us. There are instances when we read in Acts where Paul speaks up. When i say speak up what i mean is, there are times when we have to argue our case. Read Acts. There was an instance where Paul was about to be flogged and he spoke up that he was a Roman citizen and they didn't even give him a chance for trial yet. Please understand that when i say speak up i don't mean you just rant violently and hurl abusive words. I would explain these cases here as instances where it is not God's will for the person to suffer in his body yet. Because in 1 Peter above it says 'if it is God's will'. Following that one does not have to suffer on all occasions. There are some specific occasions when suffering is God's will.

The other thing that we don't really get is in understanding 'good'. To take 1 Peter again 'to suffer for doing good...'. We read it as 'suffer for being nice'. The verse explains that it is better to suffer for doing good- that would mean a course of action that is depicted as good. Lets get some explanation in some of the things that we define as good. Say we help people. That is good. Lets move on further and define help. We help people as in those who are homeless o beggars on the streets. So we might help them in ways like helping them look for work and stuff like that. But say that these beggars are somewhat controlled by some ring leader who uses them to get money. Sort of the thing we watch in the TV. Because of that we are going against something in society. Say for example this ring leader has associations with those in authority like the police or some politician. I don't have to spell the outcome to you. You will get persecuted for doing good. So i would term good here as in actions that is separate from the bad practices. Remember it says 'suffer for doing good' not being good or nice. There is actions involved!

Let me show you again in Acts 19:23ff. There was some sort of ripple in how the gospel was effecting the society in Ephesus. The gospel that Paul was bringing was making those people who made idols loose business. And because of that they were angry with Paul. There was an ugly uproar in the city. So we simply cannot say that Paul was just being good and nice and all of a sudden people hated him. That is so stupid. To get this kind of reaction from people Paul had to do something good.

Well, i can go on and on on this issue but i think my reflection will be too long and people will not read it if it gets too long. Hope that we be Christians that are not mindless people offering their bodies to be persecuted without knowing if it is actually God's will!


CeLiNe said...

Brother, AMEN!!

Did not Christ Himself demonstrate this when He drove the money changer & seller from the temple courts? I mean did that make Him bad because all of a sudden He was not really mr nice guy after all?

Absolutely not!

In fact, the only reason why He did it in the first place was because He is ultimately Good!

I think that whole story demonstrate how goodness driven by passion & not to ever neglect reason - becomes a powerful action for a cause! He was speaking up for the Gentiles right to worship at the temple courts! So, if He was somehow resented for that then that is truly the meaning of suffering because of good.

Imagine the world without the likes of John the Baptist, the apostle Paul, Martin Luther King and non-king :) , Mother Teresa & many more. These people did speak up in their own way against a bad that they see around them. They acted out of good. Fired up with a sense of wanting to try to make things right or for the truth to be known. Are they not His vessels?

anyways..that's my two-cent..was very blessed by what you wrote..

Carry on, brother! and i hope you'll find what you truly desire in His faithful timing..

Tremonti said...

Yes...Jesus acted on the basis of justice because people were deprived of God. I guess this is an issue that i have been struggling with. Getting out of the timid kind of Christianity. If Christians were bold enough to speak (truthfully) we could see changes. Thanks for your comment.

Anderson said...

Good point there bro.. With you on tat.

Hopeful Theo

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I'm a student of Theology (currently and will always be one). I'm a student of culture and a student of music as well. I guess you could say life is a never ending journey of learning. Because of that we never stop being students. Just a little something about this blog: Deconstructing The Monkey is all about being a safe space for emerging conversations