I am the first person to own up to the fact that there are way more qualified people to talk about ‘suffering being a privilege’ then me and in some ways this blog should really be a heaps of links to inspiring people who really are suffering ….some simply because they are inspirational and others cease their life and death is a far better example than me for living for the cause of the gospel: Christian martyrs, men and women serving the needy on rubbish dumps, chaplains serving soldiers in war zones, pastors in jail for decades, those fighting human trafficking on the frontline, those rescuing children from drug lords, pastors who have had their families killed and their churches torched, missionaries to unreached people and and countries where their lives are threatened…
I guess that is why Paul is writing about suffering and I am writing about him and commentating about his credibility to write such stuff. I am simply the reader being inspired by his story and his credibility, commenting on his rights to write and the credibility he brings to this message. Paul life is a list of so many reasons why we can read his words and live them. He has actually lost count of the number of times he has been thrown in prison not for doing evil but for doing right. When you look back in Acts he was told what was ahead of him as he was to go to Rome…He was told that he must got to Rome and that Rome would be a place he would be asked to SUFFERING. God still wants him to go there and he chooses obedience AND suffering instead of disobedience and NO suffering.
It is easy for me to talk about what is hard for me and what sacrifice feels like for me as I sit suffering in my lounge room that is well furnished, with electricity giving me access to lighting and cooling and hot water on tap and freshly brewed coffee in hand …this seems kind of like a paradox.I have had my own handful of challenges but right now my life is pretty cushy. So this blog is more about putting my life in perspective and seeing whatever God is asking of me as pretty simple and easy in the light of what others would cal suffering and partnering in suffering. What I may feel is uncomfortable or hard may actually simply be my at of abiding obedience. My temptation to remain apathetic is when I actually lose sight of grace, purpose and calling and focus on my comfort, my happiness and the immediate.
Paul ends up in prison but first must endure severe and brutal lashings and a beating with manipulative demands to stop preaching. This was in a time and place where the care of a prisoner were not a consideration and he is not talking about western prison where the food is hot, the toilet flushes and you can study part time online. He is appreciating and encouraging a church that has partnered with him in his suffering by praying or him, sending gifts and supporting him generosity physically, financially, spiritual and emotionally undergirding him as he deals with the opposition to the gospel.
Paul raises the issue of partnership. I don’t have to be a Paul to partner with a Paul. What is partnership? it is playing my part. to be a partner require more than one part-y. Each party must work in agreement or there is no partnership. Whatever obedience looks like for me, it is going to pull me out of comfortable and selfish ambition to uncomfortable and selflessness. Can I do obedience and uncomfortable. i can….especially when I know it comes with peace and grace. What part of partnership is god asking me to play. Who is god asking me to partner with.
Over the past couple of weeks Shappelle Corby a convicted drug trafficker has been offered $2 million to share her story. Her story is not about true freedom. I watch the media with frustration as they use this woman to gain ratings and a story that none of us are even interested in reading. her story is a web of intrigue and lies but no powerful inspiration attached. I can only imagine what would happen if the media poured their resource into issues that really mattered. But we are talking about the world. This is our culture. Why do we expect different?
We can not expect them to partner with those who are spreading the gospel of true freedom. That is the responsibility the church.
Our part is to step out into the wide open spaces of unknown and discomfort and walk but faith type of living.
Our part is to work together and sacrifice to help those who are actually on the frontline doing their part.
Or maybe our part is the frontline…
am I open to frontline living??
Will I play my part…