Thursday, 26 November 2009
Alpha - suffering
It is getting towards the end of the current Alpha course. One more week to go. We've heard about Jesus. We've heard about sin and we've heard the offer of rescue. Many questions have been raised and thoughts shared as people are slowly deciding for themselves how to respond. Last night John asked me to speak on the subject of suffering. I'm not an expert and I would not consider myself as someone who has really suffered. So in all humility I walked us through the life of Jesus from his birth to his death making the point that Jesus was the suffering servant. Born in a situation of poverty, no sign of Dad in the gospels after a certain point. He saw his friend die and his cousin murdered as he walked through life on the earth feeling pain and grief. We see suffering like that of Baby P and something inside us screams out, 'There is something wrong with the world!' We get angry and rightly so. We find ourselves agreeing with Jesus who was and is angry. Turning over tables, using rightly harsh words and talking about wrath and fury Jesus expresses something of what we feel in our hearts. Jesus taught into the issue of suffering. We are all in trouble. He asks us, 'Will you be rescued?' The world needs saving and so do you. When God made the world, He knew it would fall. But he also knew what it would cost Him to restore it. Jesus and the Father agreed the plan. He was abandoned, stripped, abused, beaten, mocked, spat on, tortured, separated from His Father as He faced the wrath of God. Jesus knew suffering. Jesus lived in the world familiar with suffering feeling the pain and the anger. He taught into the issue and then suffered beyond words to offer us reconciliation. It is always difficult teaching on a subject like this. There is not exactly a 'feel good' factor in the room afterwards! I hope it was helpful. As I reflect on this topic I am amazed at the reality of the gospel, the weight of sin and the love of God. As I walk this life I expect to suffer and so I'm grateful to know a man I can go to who has more than been there.