Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Why are Christ's loved ones killed all day long?

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or peril, or nakedness, or sword? As it is written, for your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered. Yet, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor powers, nor principalities, not things present nor things to come, nor heighth nor depth nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So much is here. Two things stick out to me; first that nothing will be able to separate us from Christ's love, and second that that love won't necessarily keep us from .. pretty much any worldly problem. I guess I want to figure out what it means to know oneself loved even in the middle of famine and nakedness and distress, and to count oneself more than a conqueror because of that love.

So, when you depend so much on Jesus that anything else is only secondary, I suppose that those other things take their value not from themselves but from how they affect your relationship to Jesus. And if things that were meant to hurt you, by God's grace and love, only end up being part of the "all things" that work together to bring you closer to Jesus, then you win entirely. Everything meant for your harm ends up for your good, because when you are Jesus' your good consists of being loved by him, and nothing can take that away.

There's a part of me that rebels at this a bit as being a little glib, the part that reads Russian novels. Is all suffering really redemptive? Does, to steal Dostoyevsky's image, the unheard suffering of a child chronically abused by her parents really work to that child's good and bring her closer to Jesus? And if it is redeemed, Ivan would say, if God builds the agony of brutally tortured toddlers into the structure of his redemptive plan, is that a God we want to be following and is that a price we can accept?

Where that view is wrong, I think, is the implicit assumption that God needs us to suffer in order to redeem us. I think I mostly think this myself. The reality is probably more like, because we live in the devil's kingdom we are going to probably suffer, but if our eyes are fixed on Jesus there isn't any suffering that isn't small beside the enormous fact of his love for us, and suffering can even help us to know that love more fully.

No comments: