Tuesday, March 13, 2007

(#4). Point 2: Don’t ever WASTE your suffering.

(This is part of a sermon. So first, read Luke 13:1-9, and then the previous posts).

Don’t ever waste the opportunity that suffering brings. This is a counter-intuitive. But Jesus hears the news of Pilate's massacre and offers a very surprising response to grieving people. Some would say insensitive. I would say insightful.

He says to this news in effect (my reflection from V2):
You think, don’t you, deep down, deep deep down, that those people were worse sinners than you are because they died in this way? Well, if you think this way, then you’ve wasted a significant God-opportunity. You have squandered a redemptive-moment. You’ve closed a door, not opened one.
You might think that this is odd to think the way Isrealites thought. But good Israelites had good precedent to link a moment like Pilate's massacre to sin. A third of your Bible – one whole third – is taken up by the Prophets: Like Jeremiah, and Isaiah, and Amos, and Hosea.

And what was their message? Their message was this: Look – God created you, Israel, and he loves you and saved you from Egypt. He gave you this land. And he asked only asked one thing: That you love him back and do what he says. And so God has said all along – That if you disobey me, I’ll throw you out of the Land. If you reject me, I’ll send an oppressive power to shed your blood. And that’s what happened: A foreign power, Babylon, shed the blood of Israelites in 587BC. It’s called simply the Exile.

And so you can see why they might have thought that these people who died were guilty. Here is a foreign power inflicting damage. It is a mini-exile. It’s mini-judgment.

But Jesus turns it all around. He puts the heat on the very people who raised the issue. V2
Do you think that they were worse sinners? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.
What’s Jesus saying? At least two things:

1. That suffering not metered out in most cases for a specific sin. You can never say: because they suffered, they must have been especially guilty. That can never be said anymore without revelation. Jesus frees us from that way of thinking.

2. But secondly he doesn’t then let anyone off the hook. Suffering itself still speaks to us and shouts to us: There is something dreadfully wrong with the world in general. There are things in this world that are not right. And all of it – all of it -- shouts to you and to me:

I, too, am a part of the problem.

Its not just bad Pilate that’s the problem. Rome is not the problem. I’m the problem. And its not the 'freedom fighters' who are the problem. I'm the problem. All evil and all suffering is a God-given moment to look in the mirror of your soul.

Soon... Don't ever waste even "Innocent suffering"...

1 comment:

Mandy said...

ovzcqsSuffering itself still speaks to us and shouts to us: There is something dreadfully wrong with the world in general.

So very true and helpful to remember.

Thanks Justin.