suffering

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

(November 23, 2021) Maureen McQuillan has a different slant to reaching out…

Not the A Night to Remember movie about the Titanic tragedy, rather an unusual summer evening when Robert had been invited to minister at a European church outside of Melbourne. Maybe I should call this article A Night of Surprises, or… Suffering.

We have great articles this month reminding us to reach out to people, even strangers, and bless them whether they know Jesus or not. And taking opportunities to witness him, the only light in this dark world.

Such reaching out to bless someone closeby – that ‘love thy neighbour’ matter Jesus highlighted (Matthew 22:39) – reminds me of how our Christian neighbours bless us meaningfully. They kindly bring our bins up, even taking them down if see Robert struggling with them.

And I’d like to remind us that reaching out isn’t always about ‘spiritual matters’… it includes being practical and doing so even if it’s inconvenient, embarrassing. So let me share about such an opportunity to bless a stranger… from a different point of view.

Sinister
That particular Sunday evening was many years ago and coming out our frontdoor, my first surprise was seeing Robert looking down at the patio at a strange, cultic-like object, made of Wicca-type sticks! Who had left them? Robert picked them up carefully and suggested we pray again before setting off.

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GOD THE FATHER OR FAIRY GODMOTHER

(January 15, 2019) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, challenges us to think outside the proverbial box…

‘Happy New Year!’

How often have we said that this year? And we truly hope that all the people to whom we have given this greeting will indeed have a happy year. However we know that for some this year will not be happy. Regardless of how committed to God we may be, the vagaries of life often present us with unwelcome problems, unrelenting sickness, unexpected sorrow or overwhelming disaster and no one is immune from such events.

The reality is that some quite evil people in the world prosper and some truly godly people suffer. So there is no correlation between Godliness and a trouble-free life.

Yet some Christians try to give the impression that everything is always well in their world – and they maintain this façade until some problem is encountered which often causes them to fall apart.  As we live in a fallen world, inevitably we all struggle at some stage with disturbing and destructive experiences regardless committed we may be in our discipleship or how pious we may present ourselves.   Only self-delusion can maintain the myth that all is always well in our world.

Fairy Godmothers aren’t real!
Recently I have been reflecting on two alternative ideas that Christians have concerning God – God the Father or God the Fairy Godmother.  If we think of God as some kind of ‘fairy godmother’ our conception of God will be one in which he always acts by solving all our problems and ensuring that good things always happen to us.

This is not, however, the character of Lord God Almighty who is revealed in the Bible. We know that fairy godmothers are not real! Nor is such a God real!

The book of Job gives us some telling pointers on which we should reflect. (more…)

THE TEST OF TRUTH

(April 8, 2017) Stuart Reynolds brings Easter challenge …

Last month as I listened to BBC Radio 2’s Breakfast Show my interest was piqued by one of Chris Evans’ guests – Israeli historian Dr Yuval Noah Harari, talking about his book, Sapiens.

Harari contends that Homo sapiens (‘the only extant human species’) rule the world as the dominant species because of our unique ability to believe in things which exists only in the imagination: nations, money, human rights, and, of course, religion. Evans concluded the interview by asking Harari what is the most important piece of advice he could give for the future well-being of the human race.

His response? That our paramount need is to do our best to differentiate between what is fiction and reality:  ‘Humans find it very difficult to know what is real and what is just a fictional story in their own minds, and this causes a lot of disasters, wars and problems… The best test to know whether an entity is real or fictional is the test of suffering. A nation cannot suffer, it cannot feel pain, it cannot feel fear, it has no consciousness. Even if it loses a war, the soldier suffers, the civilians suffer, but the nation cannot suffer. Similarly, a corporation cannot suffer, the pound sterling, when it loses its value, it doesn’t suffer. All these things, they’re fictions…’

I immediately said to my wife, Helen, ‘He has just defeated his own argument!’ If it be so – ‘the best test to know whether an entity is real or fictional is the test of suffering,’ then the greatest undisputed statement of truth in the whole universe, never mind in human history, must the person of God in his only Son Jesus Christ, of whom the Bible says is ‘The Suffering Servant.’ (more…)