Lesson Plans‎ > ‎

The Mystery of Suffering and the Importance of The Church

posted Oct 3, 2010, 3:41 PM by Website Administrator   [ updated Jan 9, 2014, 5:21 PM ]

October 3, 2010

Key Passage: Ephesians 3:1-13 

"The Mystery of Suffering and the Importance of The Church" 

Ever heard of Rabbi Harold Kushner?  Bet you’ve heard of his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People – one of the best-selling books of the last 20 years.  It was a best seller not only because it’s so well written, but also because it caters to a narcissistic age.  For us, ANY suffering, confusion or tragedy is patently unfair and underserved because we stopped trusting a God whose presence makes suffering, confusion and tragedy bearable.  Here’s the Follower’s dilemma: The Bible has absolutely no qualms whatsoever about presenting a world where bad things can and do happen to good people and good things happen to bad people.  God doesn’t seem at all challenged about accepting responsibility for that which befalls us that we determine is “good” or “bad.”  The pill we have to swallow is this – our inability to accept these paradoxes is our problem, not God’s … frankly, problems / sufferings / disappointments are God’s gracious way of teaching us to seek Him in a deeper way than we ever have before.  Every bit of life finds its final solution in the person and being of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Never forget – we need Jesus more than we need anything from Jesus. 

Ephesians 3:1-6  The Mystery of Suffering 

Truth #1 – All believers will suffer, but in our sufferings we need to maintain God's perspective

    • Although most of us don't buy into the heresy that is the "Health, Wealth and Prosperity" Gospel, we often make the mistake of thinking what if we walk obediently with the Lord, He will reward us with protection from trials.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

Truth #2 – We can be joyfully grateful in our trials if we remember we're beneficiaries of God's salvation

    • God's grace in the gospel is a precious, underserved gift
    • God's grace cannot be grasped by human reason…God must reveal it to us
    • God's grace comes to us by the working of his power

Truth 3# - We can be joyful and grateful during trials if we remember we've privilege to serve Christ

    • The word "minister" in the N.T. doesn't refer to a member of the clergy; rather, it's the Greek word "diakonos," (deacon), referring to one who waited on tables.  Even if Christ calls you to suffer for His name's sake, you can joyfully serve Him if you remember what a great privilege it is to be a steward of God's amazing grace.
 Ephesians 3:7-13 The Importance of the Church 
    • God's eternal purpose is to make known his wisdom through the church…John Piper once said, "we don't usually hit targets we're not aiming at – and the target for the church is to demonstrate to the evil powers of the cosmos that God has been wise in sending his Son to die that we might have hope and be unified in one body…the church."  Therefore, when the church fails, we send this message through the galaxies: God's purpose is failing; he was not wise, he was foolish.
    • Because the church is at the center of God's eternal purpose, we must pray and not lose heart in our trials and sufferings…prayer is not an intercom to call the maid to bring more snacks to the TV room.  It's a spiritual text message to the general to send more troops and supplies to the front line!

Q:  What practical effect would it have if Christians realized that their daily behavior was revealing something to the rulers in heavenly places?

Q:  Someone asks you, "Why did God permit evil into this world?"  Your response? 

Bottom Line: Most Christians don't commit themselves fully to our church because they're too focused on themselves and they don't have the big picture.  The church is the center of how God wants to change the world…it's His Bride. We should respond by committing ourselves to it and praying for God to use it mightily.  We should be willing to endure suffering to see it become all that God wants it to be.