Christ has discussed and warned his disciples about the struggles and issues that the church will face in time as they go to carry out Christ’s mission. The temptation is not to go forward with Christ’s mission. I mean if this is a kingdom that only involves cross bearing plus suffering then why go? Christ gives the assurance that we go because we will receive the prophet’s reward. So, what is that prophet’s reward?
Christ’s disciples will face trials, struggles, and hardships. Christ has already mentioned the hardships that await us. However, Christ goes on to speak of other problems that tempt us beyond just the comforts of this world. Christ tells us that we might have to walk away from family to be incorporated into the kingdom of God. How can Christ talk about disrupting the family? Why would we want to give up these earthly comforts for Christ?
This is a very short speech in the book of Job. The counselors are those who are very wordy, but now we find that they are starting to fade away. Why are the counselors no longer talking? Have the counselors run out of words or is something else happening?
Jacob is on his deathbed and now has the opportunity to prophetically speak about the future of his 12 sons. Will he abuse his prophetic gift and try to put his favored son ahead of the other sons? Or has this man really learned from this wrestling match that the wisdom of God is manifested through weakness? How does the Lord show the irony off the Messianic line by coming through a very unlikely son? Why is this son such an unlikely candidate to bring forth the messiah?
We might think that we cannot relate to what it must have been like for Israel to be in exile. The reality is that James greets the church as a group of people who are in exile. We might think that this life is a waste because it does not measure up to what we want. We need to listen to James who is laying out for us that this life probably will not meet our expectations because it is not supposed to meet our expectations. So, why follow our God then if this life will not give us all that we think it should?
We might think that this notion of the preservation and perseverance of the saints is unique to the Apostle Paul. We might also think that this is not all that significant in terms of our psychology or encouraging us through difficult times in this life. In fact, we might think that that knowing God will preserver us waters down the struggle or the hardship of this life. It sounds like life is not that challenging because God will just continue to pull the puppet strings. So, what does a Calvinist say about such a claim that Reformed Theology minimizing suffering?
We might think that the kingdom of God is a kingdom of glory. There is glory in the kingdom of God, but that is not the whole story. What is involved in the kingdom of God prior to the glory? Why is it so offensive that the very men who bring the kingdom are rebuked when they discuss their significance in the kingdom?
The honest truth is that the kingdom of God is very difficult for us to grasp. There are some who believe that Christ is basically teaching us ethical things and that is what we take from the kingdom. There are others who see Christ as one thoroughly committed to His beliefs even to death. Are these fair assessments of Christ’s work? What is the point of Christ’s suffering and our suffering? What is the outcome of the suffering? Is it just to suffer to show fulfillment, or is there something beyond the suffering that keeps it all in perspective?