Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Not Setting People Up.

One of the dangers in dealing with suffering is avoiding setting people up for it. There exists a kind of evangelistic malpractice that Christians are in danger of committing. We can give the impression that if a person comes to Christ, their problems will vanish and they will have lives of largely unbroken happiness. I am not just talking about the health-and-wealth gospel, though it is the extreme case. But even more moderate evangelistic approaches can end up leaving this impression. But the problem with this is, it sets people up for a fall. People come to Christ for the wrong reasons and end up dumping it again, claiming they tried Christianity and it did not work. Or people genuinely come to Christ but end up struggling in their Christian lives because it does not work out the way they thought it would. How do we avoid this problem?

First of all, we need to start by recognizing what Scripture actually says on this subject. It does not say Christians will have no problems. In fact, it seems to promise we will encounter suffering (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 1 Peter 4:12,13). Now God has said He will bring us through us suffering (Romans 8:18; 2 Corinthians 4:17,18, 2:14). He has even said He will use it to make us into the kind of people He wants us to be (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5; 8:28-30). Now the fact that someone suffers does not mean they have done something wrong (John 9:1-3; Hebrews 11:36-38; Job 1,2), though God does sometimes use suffering to discipline us for our wrongdoing (Hebrews 12:5-11; 1 Corinthians 11:30-32; Revelation 3:19). One of the two churches in Revelation that was not rebuked was characterized by suffering,  and they were told they would continue to suffer (Revelation 2:8-11).

Therefore, when we invite people to come to Christ, we must prepare them for suffering. Now God promises many things if we come to Him. He promises forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14). He promises we will become His children (John 1:12,13; Romans 8:14-17; Galatians 4:5-7). He promises we will be with Him forever (John 3:16; 10:27-30; 1 John 5:11-13). He promises that we can come and ask Him for what we need, and He will take care of us (Philippians 4:6,7; 1 Peter 5:7; Matthew 6:25-34). But God is not a vending machine in the sky. Rather, He grants things according to His will, based on what He knows is best (1 John 5:14,15; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Matthew 26:36-46). But nowhere are we promised we will not face suffering. And to claim we will not is simply false advertising.   

No comments:

Post a Comment