Another bit from ‘The Ordinary Hero’ (Tim Chester) that’s got me thinking is how he talks about the cross not just being the pattern for Christian discipleship (which I guess is a relatively conventional idea) but also the pattern of the world.
So the cross does not just pattern the need for self-sacrificial service, and even martyrdom, (things we might call suffering-with-a-purpose) from Christians, but it is also the place where God’s wrath against sin is displayed, and so it is the epitome of the curse that the whole of creation is currently under (groaning and birth pangs a la Romans 8). That means that we can even understand the banal frustrations, daily grind and meaningless troubles (suffering-apparently-without-a-purpose) of life in light of the cross. In fact, things like illness, ageing, disasters, and also incomprehensible human evil – like teenagers beating a granny to death ‘for fun’ – can all be understood as the fallout of living in a fallen, sinful world, under God’s just curse for sin.
As a Christian living in a country where I’m not particularly subject to persecution, I find this really helpful because most of my ‘suffering’ is not of the noble, self-sacrificial, suffering-for-the-gospel type. Most of mine is apparently senseless. And it feels particularly pertinent as I’m on an obstetrics firm at the moment – watching women give birth really brings home to you that it’s part of the post-Fall curse!
Tim Chester says we can understand this ‘meaningless’ suffering in the context of the fact that the whole world is waiting for liberation – liberation that was bought by Jesus death and resurrection but will not be fully manifested until He returns. In cosmic terms, we are still at Good Friday.
Which leaves me with no choice but to link to this epic-ness:
It’s friday… but Sunday’s coming.