Suffering

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From Douglas John Hall’s The Cross in our Context: “[W]henever the church has made good its claim to Christ’s discipleship, it has at least know the call to suffer….not because suffering is good or beneficial or ultimately rewarding, but called to suffer because there is suffering – that is, because God’s creatures, including human beings, are already suffering, because ‘the whole creation groans.’

The point is: the suffering of the church is not the goal but the consequence of faith. For faith is that trust in God then frees us sufficiently from self to make us cognizant of and compassionate in relation towards the other – in particular, the other who suffers, who is hungry and thirsty, who is imprisoned; the other who ‘fell among thieves’; the other who knocks at our door at midnight in need. The church is a community of suffering because it is a community whose eyes have been opened to the suffering that exists. The first assumption of the this ecclesiology is not that the church should suffer but that it should be ‘attentive’ – namely, attentive to the suffering there and that is usually bypassed by the world, as in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Bible assumes that human and creaturely suffering is perennial and manifold. If the church does not see this suffering and if, seeing it, it does not take the burden of it upon itself, then its whole life must be called into question.”

Roger

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