Religion and Suffering


This might not be going to go where you think it's going to go.


I'm probably not so qualified to write this, but that's never stopped me before.

There is a fascinating letter written to the Philippian church by the apostle known as Paul. The first page of the letter is dynamite! Paul speaks about having no confidence in the flesh, and he does so in the midst of another discussion about circumcision and religious law. Oh boy! He seems to be referring to circumcision in particular, and religious regulation in general as things he has no confidence in, and sums them up in the word "flesh". It always strikes me, no matter how many times I read it. 

The contrast to the religious experience of faith is not what you might think either. Before I get there, consider this: groups of people who have been through situations together tend to experience a sort of banding together, or special empathy toward each other long after the event has passed. You see this in one form in soldiers, or short term missions groups, and in another ongoing form in school teachers. Psychologically, almost nothing is more powerful than suffering together ... And here's the powerful thing about Christianity: For the Christian, Instead of waiting for suffering to happen, we seek out and enter into others' suffering on purpose ... Just as Christ entered our suffering. The divine love we received is the same love we give away. Collosians 1 and Philippians 2 speak to this.

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