Rev. Anthony Martlew, L.Th.
"I DON'T DESERVE TO SUFFER"
THIS is not the writer complaining! It is only what people say when calamity strikes too close for comfort. No doubt you have heard people ask "Why does God allow dreadful things to happen?" Those who make such remarks have not given any serious thought as to what life is all about. Even many church folk are sadly lacking in basic Christian knowledge.
Sadly, today there is a dearth of sound teaching in our churches. Some ministers admit that they only have a basic knowledge of Scripture!
It is also disturbing that the Government encourages secularism which is having a disastrous effect upon the coming generation. The Welsh assembly's education minister, Miss Jane Davidson, said that she was delighted that a £12 million scheme to build a Christian school in Wales had been blocked. She said that the Vardy Foundation has been widely condemned for brainwashing children, and spreading fundamental doctrine. "I will have none of this in Wales" she said.
People today are being denied our Christian heritage, which is ours by Divine Right. Add to this the vast sums of money which are poured into the entertainment industry, and it is not difficult to see why the nation is sliding into apostasy. The Bishop of Oxford, in a "Thought for the Day" slot on 15th March 2002, states "So much evidence has accumulated for Evolution". He ended up by castigating "Biblical literalism".
Bearing these things in mind, we are able to understand why people say "Idon't deserve to suffer". What exactly do they mean when they say it? Firstly, they imply that they see themselves as "good". "I'm not a bad person, I've never done anyone any harm". Thus they have convinced themselves that they are right in God's eyes as well as their own. If we were to give them a Biblical answer as to how they rate in God's sight, they would be most offended.
"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away". - (Isaiah 64:6)
Neither would they like to know,
"The heart is deceitful above all things, and despemtely wicked: who can know it?" - (Jeremiah 17:9)
None of us wish to hear the truth about ourselves, especially if it cuts across how we like to be seen by others. The truth is, we all come under Paul's condemnation in Romans 3:23,
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" - (Romans 3:23)
This being so, what right do any of us have to say, "I don't deserve to suffer like this"? The only reason that believers have hope is because of the infinite love of God, manifested in Christ, Who, because of His death and resurrection, has made it possible for us, by faith, to be saved from God's wrath.
How do we get this across to unbelievers? The usual response when we try to explain these things to them is,"I don't need you to preach at me, thank you".
Although this is not a new problem by any means, the fact is, that because of "political correctness", it is becoming more difficult to preach a full Gospel. For
example, many will be offended by John 14:6.
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me".
Those of other faiths will strongly disagree with what Our Lord said, but that should make us more determined than ever to speak boldly and say what Our Lord Himself taught. We are living in difficult and dangerous times, and it is so easy to go along with the crowd and give in to mankind's ideas which change from year to year.
We have been given a job to do, and that is to honour the Lord, and not be afraid of the forces arrayed against us. Our Lord could not have made it plainer when He said,
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. - (Matthew 24:13)
A very sobering thought is another of Jesus' statements,
"Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it". - (Matthew 7:14)
We must not expect an overwhelming response to our work for the Lord. As each day passes, our task becomes more difficult, and peoples' blindness and hardness of heart becomes more apparent. This should strengthen our resolve to keep about the Lord's business.
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." - Psalms 119:105
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