(sermon by Andrew Allison)
The Apostle Paul wrote this book. He was a religious zealot who killed those who believed differently. That makes him a terrorist, right? And then he had an encounter with Jesus and was never the same again. He became a free man who experienced unsinkable joy. (This reminds me of one of C.S. Lewis’ quotes – “I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: the most reluctant convert in all England.“)
The source of Paul’s joy was suffering.
The biggest argument against the Christian God is the topic of suffering. If God is good and powerful, He would step in and remove suffering, right? Well, take God out of the picture and we will still suffer, only we will do so without meaning or purpose. All we have left is dread. It is a lie to belief that a person thrives best without suffering. God is not supposed to make life easier. He has a much bigger plan for us than just providing a “cushy” life.
Paul said, “I rejoice when I suffer.” His deep privilege was to suffer because he knew the resurrected Jesus lived in him. Hundreds of years, the Jews had waited for Jesus and now He was here. Paul surrendered his life to Him and He clearly understood the place of suffering in his life.
“I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. The glorious mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (vs. 27)
Our pastor gave us this picture – “We have a Lamborghini motor in our Corolla exterior.”
We rejoice in our suffering. God will use our suffering.
We aim at being “fully mature in Christ” as He so powerfully works with us. (vs.29)
We have such a great hope.