Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Thu, 09/06/2011 – 12:43
Year A (2010-2011)
Bible Book: 1 Peter / 1 Petrus
Chapter: 4
Verse: 12 – 14

Due to CABSA’s tenth anniversary celebration weekend of 3-5 June, I ran out of time to send out last week’s message. Therefore I send it this week.

The congregations to whom this letter was sent were persecuted and oppressed, defamed and slandered (could we even say stigmatised?).

Could a person living with HIV and AIDS claim to share in the suffering and passion of Christ? What about a person suffering from cancer? Or the one who suffers emotionally because he or she has lost a partner to death? Are only those who suffer because of a direct act of faith such as evangelism the ones who can share in the suffering of Christ?

The key to understanding our participation in the suffering of Christ is to understand what Christ has saved us from, how our suffering relates to the structures and powers that oppose the rule of God, and how our suffering relates to the redeeming work of Christ.

The link between our suffering and that which opposes the rule of God is complex. We suffer because of our vulnerability in the face of the dreadful forces of evil and death. For some it is some kind of illness, for others it is being addicted to chemical substances, or losing a mother. The fact that the powers and structures that organise life in our societies propel the impact of evil, increases our vulnerability; a vulnerability that is also intensified by our inability to make good choices (even though our intention is to make a life-giving choice cf Rom 7:15-23). So we, together and in our own individual circumstances, share in the suffering of Christ, who had been a victim of those same forces of uncontrolled evil and death on the one hand, and fear on the other hand.

Hope is the key to understand the way in which our suffering relates to the redeeming work of Christ. Filled with hope, built on the death and resurrection of Christ, we can by word and deed provide a faithful response to the forces of this world.

A stigmatised person can decide not to respond with hate. Because of hope, a person living with HIV and AIDS can decide to live a healthy and responsible life. Because of hope, scientists can do their research to discover something new about the virus. Because of hope, the economist can look at ways to finance research and treatment, or a congregation can sign a petition calling on world governments to speak out in favour of on-going action. In all these and many other ways we participate in the redeeming work of Christ. What we do is resisting evil and bringing life to the poor and afflicted.

Yes, we can claim (not brag about) participation in the death and life of Christ – to do it, is to live and to bring life!

To think about (or discuss): In what ways does our community share in the suffering of Christ and participates in his redeeming work?

Author: J Pieters (Ds)
Language: English