Suffering and New Creation
Sermon: Suffering and New Creation (John 21:18-19)
If Christ has accomplished redemption and sin has been dealt with once and for all, then why must suffering still be a reality in the world? Why must we “follow Jesus” in the way of the cross?
The Reality of Suffering - The religions of the world have different ways of addressing suffering. Some religions deny the reality of suffering, viewing it as an illusion, such as “Christian Science.” On the other hand, some religions “accept” suffering, but focus on the “attachments” of the sufferers as the problem (Buddhism). Tribal and polytheistic religions (rather unsuccessfully) try to avert suffering by superstition. Pain and suffering are reality.
The Reason for Suffering - Christian teaching provides for the cause of suffering. Ultimately, suffering is the result of sin in the world, which came through the personal, idolatrous choice of our first man, Adam/Eve. “Sin and misery” (Shorter Catechism) creates the environment for suffering, even when our own particular sins do not cause a specific trial or pain.
The Redemption of Suffering - Does suffering have purpose or is it futile? Only in Christ can we see glory through suffering. Suffering has purpose in our faith. Like cleansing a wound, like discipline to win the race, like hard work before the finished project, like labor before childbirth, so is suffering in the Christian life. Pain, trials, and suffering bring glory and honor.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more