Friday, April 24, 2009

Suffering and the Church...

I've been reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. Today's money quote:

"But the church knows that the world is still seeking someone to bear its sufferings, and so, as it follows Christ, suffering becomes the church's lot too and bearing it, it is borne up by Christ. As it follows him beneath the cross, the church stands before God as the representative of the world."

Earlier this week a 17-year-old in our community chose to take his own life. While he or his family was not connected with our church, our congregation has really been impacted by such a tragic event. More than once this week, the question has come up, "how do we as the church in our community engage suffering?"

Jesus conquered suffering by going through it, so the church as the Body of Christ in the world, must seek to conquer suffering (ours and others' suffering) by engaging it and being present to it.

We must hold the family who has lost a son. We must surround those whose life is crumbling before them. We must be present on the streets with the homeless. We must sit in the hospital room of the dying. If for no other reason than to point to (and maybe even sometimes be) the presence of God in the midst of suffering.

We can't remove others' suffering, but we can bear it with them, just as Christ on the cross bore our sin.

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