Suffering For Christ or Self Love?

jesus-carrying-cross-bloodyI  did a post way back on Suffering, after going through cancer.  I would like to expound on that.  For many in today’s Christian community place so much emphasis on “prosperity” that they neglect what the Bible says about suffering.  Whereby, they are not open to helping those in need as they should and cannot put themselves in another’s shoes when they are going through the storms of this life.  They live in perfect worlds full of materialistic “things” and do not understand real pain.  
“In the Bible, self-love as such is seen to be a sinful thing.  After all, what is the essence of sin but that we are curved in on ourselves, placing self, rather than God, at the center of the universe.  And so Paul, in 2Timothy 3:1-5, tells us that one of the hallmarks of the last days is that people will be “lovers of themselves” instead of “lovers of God”, and that is precisely where we are in our society today.” By Melvin Tinker, Wisdom to live by.

“As Christ struggled up Calvary’s hill and bled upon it, His aim was to eradicate self-love and implant the love of God in the hearts of men.  One can only increase as the other decreases.”  By Walter J. Chantry, The Shadow of the Cross – Studies in Self-Denial.

“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he HUMBLED himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!”  Phillipians 2:4-8

2 Corinthians 2:4 “For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish or heart and with many tears not to grieve you, but to let you know the depth of my love for you. vs 5 If anyone has cause of your grief…vs 7 So that contrariwise you ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow (despair).  vs 8 Wherefore I beseech you that you would confirm your love toward him.”  (PAUL WAS SAYING,  DO MORE THAN JUST SAY YOU LOVE HIM, BUT RATHER SHOW YOUR LOVE TO HIM. ) JS Expositor’s study Bible.  When Jesus healed the lelper, he added a personal touch too.  Am I a piece of junk mail or a letter?  Matt 5:13 on salt and light.  We are to make a stand for what we believe in. Is our saltiness is made to preserve life.  I Cor. 13:1 Not love?  We can talk all we want and that includes preachers, not just family that ignores, but, without love, its all just emptiness.

I came home from church a few Sunday’s ago, and put my usual Daystar programs on, and listened to Pastor Jeremiah, and then Jim Toll and Ed Young.  Ed young touched on this one Sunday.  IE Those sitting up in their “Ivory Towers”.  He said, ” Don’t look at fallen towers with “religious eyes…suffering and bad things happening to good people…for when you are in “religious eyes”, you throw God out”.

“Try to tell someone that was abused,” he said, ” that abuser was dancing to his DNA, or someone that has been raped.  (Bad people have all this in their DNA?) It is a ridiculous interpretation from the Godless.   Jesus in Luke 13:6-9, answers, cut it down.  If no fruit comes from it , cut it down.   We either repent or we perish.  What Jesus is saying is more than simplifying repentance, unless we are filled with what God wants from us, and repent. When things are going super we replace HIM with ourselves, and things and STUFF…The warning is we will perish!  STOP BRAGGING about all your material things, and look at the SUFFERING  and what others might see in that message.  Are we in the Kingdom business?  For when things go “swimmingly”  we forget and are blinded to others who are not in THAT place of prosperity in the material things.”  (Which means nothing anyways.) “So Christ gets pushed to one side, and that’s when the tower will FALL.   The towers are a part of life.  Because we live in a fallen world with fallen people.  We get swept up in EGO and haven’t paid the consequences.  We don’t want JUSTICE only grace.  It doesn’t work that way!  The time to repent is when things are going good!”  I heard Charles Stanley say once too,  about pain…”Even when that person gets saved, if they have been abused, had an abortion, been through rape, etc, they may be forgiven, but that HOLE IN THEIR SIDE, like Jesus had at the Cross, it NEVER goes away.  My abuse didn’t.  It’s always there as a reminder, and of His Grace, but also to have compassion to others.

I see people sick, with worse cancer than I had, others now going through chemo…I remember my friend Joan who suffered with cancer, and with all her faith, never relented or gave in to the devil one iota.  She no sooner went into remission, with one
cancer and then it popped up elsewhere, as this went on for years.   She never gave up until she was on in such excruciating pain on morphine near the end.  She was a light.  I question whether or not I could have gone through what she had, as I may have had cancer, but, a lumpectomy is a lot different, than what my friend Joan suffered through.  She died Dec. 17, 2008.  She lost her battle, but was a light, who strived towards that mark and prayed unceasingly, always thanking God, and grateful for the small things in her life.  I for one, will never forget a courageous gal named Joan.

There is something to be said for “suffering”, “perseverance”, and “endurance”.   Have we become that selfish even in churches that we cannot have the compassion of Christ to someone in time of need?   Why is there so much in the Bible about suffering, yet, nothing said in churches?  It bothers me, for it is not an accurate depiction of life.  Tragedies happen all around us, and I am convinced we are in the end days.  I am NOTHING in this world…I bury my own ego as it is dead in Christ.  If I am to follow HIM, then the “things” of this world, including money, mean nothing.  Money and prosperity, could not bring back my 3 month old baby, laying in a casket in 1958 with the autopsy cut on her head showing through her bonnet.   It could not bring back my bi-polar son, that I fought so hard to get helped, and blew himself up with 6 sticks of stolen dynamite in 1999.   Money from a consequential lawsuit later, was nothing to me, even though all those around me, had their hand out…and I gave $30,000 away…for it was “blood money” afterall…It meant NOTHING to me.  So when I hear a preacher standing at a pulpit bragging about all he has “materially” and how much “God knows” his heart and love for these “things”…I cringed.  For it lacks wisdom and maturity, for all the intelligence someone has, they don’t get it.  For as I said above, when your in that “Ivory Tower”….trust me….TRUST ME….ALL TOWERS FALL!   And you put your trust in “things”…and honey, you have been diverted very subtly by the enemy.

I love Job.  Not much is taught about him.   From Discovery “Navigating The Storms of Life”:  “Someone who, “being in the very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing?  The central question of the book of Job is not, “why do the righteous suffer?” but Why do the righteous serve God?”  Why do I follow Christ?  Some forms of preaching that promise health, wealth, and prosperity to the “King’s Kids” appeal to the WORST instincts within us.  Do I love God for HIS gifts or for Himself?  Would I still love Him if He called me to walk the path of suffering and sacrifice…giving all up ? Warren Wiersbe sums up this essential issue well:
Satan’s accusation cuts at the very heart of worship and virtue.  Is God worthy to be loved and obeyed even if He does NOT bless us materially and protect us from pain?  Can God win the heart of man totally apart from His gifts? In other words, the very character of God is what is at stake in this struggle (Why us? When bad things happen to God’s people, P. 41″.

The second act of Job concentrates on Job himself, rather than his family or possessions.  Satan’s onslaught zooms in on Job’s health.  Job is reduced to a pain-wracked outcast, scraping his sores with shards of pottery, vainly seeking relief from his pain.   The author in Discovery  wrote, “It has helped me immeasurably to realize that my fundamental concern in such times must not be, How can I get out of this? but, WHAT can I get out of this?  That is not a stance of passive resignation, as Job struggled too.  At the end of Job too, he meets God and is overpowered by His wisdom, His power, His grace and His care.  “My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.  Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes”.
You know it has been my experience in my years as a Christian, that many of those in ministry, do not realize that those who suffer, whether it be illness, death, etc; but true pain, may get in a closer place alone with God, in their tears, repentance, mourning, hurts, helplessness, loneliness, but PAIN…Pain beyond understanding, that they could not themselves possibly endure, and therefore, have no right to brush off and minimalize.  For if you haven’t been in that place of say, abuse, loss of children, deaths, cancer or other illnesses, and your in your merry little prosperous world? You are teaching a false gospel, and in that end, your towers will fall.   For when “things ” become the priority, from a golf game, music, hobbies, etc, and when you indulge your desires autonomously, then we are all falling into the trap of the evil one.  This is the old lie he used with Eve.  ‘You will be like God’.   God’s response is, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. He doesn’t attack Satan’s audacity, or mocked Satan’s credibility, but instead quotes God’s word.”  Most of the excerpts here are from Gary Inrig, True North, published by Discovery.

I do not see in my walk anymore, many that have “left all behind” materially.  I’m in touch with several in missions, and know their hearts, that have been called by God to live such a selfless life.  If I won or received a million dollars next week, I would give it away for I lost my taste in “things ” many many years ago.  Ivory towers, do you live in one?   With all the money some may possess, the suicide rate, drug addictions, and unhappy lives, like Tiger Woods, who had it all and threw it away.  Suffering in his case, isn’t the same, for he brought it all on himself in greed.  The more people get, the more they want, and are never satisfied.   So you live in your Ivory Towers, until they crumble.  Could you sell your fancy house for a lessor one, or that expensive car?  Would you obey God, if like Job, you were forced to loose what you loved most?
Most have no idea, but, I do.  For no amount of money could bring back my son or my baby.

Peter said in I Peter 3:14 “But if you suffer for Righteousness sake, happy are you. ” 5:6 “HUMBLE yourselves”  (NOT BE A BRAGGART ON ALL YOU POSSESS) “Under the Mighty Hand of God!”  Romans 8:28 Pain is a process!  It is continuous in which we are transformed by God.  To wish to be transformed WITHOUT pain is to expect a hunk of shapeless steel to become a beautiful and useful commodity without the trauma of an assembly line.”  Anchors in the Storm, Joe Stowell, Discovery

Can you weep with those who weep?  Does your heart break for those with pain?  Do you console, love them unceasingly as Jesus, hug them, edify or tear down?  For God may have to stain your cheeks with tears so that you can genuinely empathize as Christ does.   For if others’ judge me and cannot see in me all the times in pain I have been on my knees crying out to Christ, then they don’t know my heart, for I can make it through “all things” (Philippians) , through tough times….made into the beauty of Christ Jesus… I am not here on earth to impress others, for I have no ego, or self anymore…and my wings with disability have been so clipped, I go day to day, in faith,  knowing He is with me, and I don’t rely on “things”, I don’t need, but to look forward one day to seeing my Savior face to face.

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