I am going to hit on a lot of things. Are you ready?
I got new glasses. And they’re prescription, baby. Not to boast in my inability to see, but they are real lens-cut-to-help-me-see-better glasses. Oh and they are baller. Note Figure 1.
So what’s up with the fake glasses nowadays. I have friends who wear them and no offense… but what?! Poor eyesight is an infirmity and I am not saying that it is insensitive to wear fake glasses. But when is the last time you saw someone rollin’ out in a blinged out wheelchair because it is a cool new mode of transportation and expresses their style cause “That’s how I rollz!”
This has lead me to ponder with God about pain and infirmity on Earth for believers…
No doubt when we are in Heaven we will all have smoking hot bods. But some Christians seem to believe that Jesus intended this for Earth. You know “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, my bank account be full, and my health be perfect on Earth as it is in Heaven.” That sort of deal.
Some refer to it as the “(health and wealth) prosperity gospel”- some don’t include health, though it is the same carnal crave.
It seems so offensive to say “Hey look I have bad eyesight. You don’t need to heal me.” Or even more so if you are in a wheelchair or in the hospital. (And I am not saying don’t pray, rather all things through prayer and supplication- so pray your brains out cause God wants you too). And then there is this guilt put on if I say I don’t think God wants me to be sick, but I am not that concerned about it because He knows what is going on and He knows what He is not doing or is doing.
We should not accept pain as the end all be all but rather steward our bodies as temples. I mean, I like to give the apartment a once over before inviting guests to hang out. Heck, I like to empty the trash bag in my car and even to change the air fresheners if I know I am going on a road trip with friends. So why are we letting our arteries get cluttered up or refusing to take some cold medicine when we are ill? Lets take care of what we can. Cause the Holy Spirit is moving in and Jesus is coming for dinner. And He’s supping often– dinner for breakfast, dinner for lunch, dinner, and dinner for dessert. But even so there is pain. Physical, emotional, spiritual, mental pain. It can’t be denied. It is there.
What marvelous planning though! For pain can be a conduit for the Holy Spirit. And what if dare I say it, we must suffer. Picking up your cross is not pain-free.
We see this in the lives of numerous Biblical characters. Paul is a pretty good example. He takes an entire paragraph in 2 Corinthians 11 to list off his suffering just to praise God a the end for them. Of course there is Job too. That is basically his whole story. The poor… ehem “lucky” fella’.
If you try to hop skip over and around the pain, sufferings, and trials of life; you are denying God’s ability to work. He works in stages through sufferings to lead to hope (check out this post for more on the topic). Too often I have seen Christians attempt to patch over the rot. It is ineffective and eventually detrimental.
When you are in pain but can point back to Jesus and say “though I wear glasses He has opened my eyes to see clearly what is more important”… When we realize that having a perfect body on earth will never compare to the glorified bodies we will have in heaven… And when we can go beyond even that to know it is not our bodies that matter but being the body of the Bride/ of the Church/ of His Beloved… then we have reached a new level of maturity of understanding Gods perfect plan. A plan written before the beginning of time and sealed in the blood of a Son. The plan that outlines the greatest Love imaginable.
We, as men, block the power of God by denying the characteristics of Him and denying His word. We deny that pain can be part of this plan. You see pain was at the center of the plan: in between two nail-pierced hands.
His thoughts are lofty. I challenge you to find a man who would have come up with the most cruel death to symbolize and personify the most powerful love.
His standards are high.
See, we cannot say they are better until we recognize that we cannot possibly have any frame of reference. What are we comparing God to? A world of pain? At the beginning of time He rended the heavens from the earth, cut the depths of the oceans, and designed the pain receptors of every creature.
What are we comparing Him to in order to say that pain was not part of His plan for us on Earth- a human assumption that anything that feels bad cannot be of God because He is sweet and cuddly?
There will be a time of no more pain and suffering. It is promised. But it is not now. If it was supposed to be now you would have been swept off your feet into heaven at your moment of salvation. But God, graciously and mercifully, left us here on Earth as humans with bodies capable of ache and hearts capable of tearing. It is a gift to learn to rely on Jesus and to hope in Him for that day. But in the meantime we live today. Forgetting the past, eyes focused on the prize of the upward call, and moving our feet one step at a time.
So…. is it okay for Christians who are gung-ho about healin’ and sealin’ to be tottering around in their faux glasses… I don’t have an answer, only an opinion (which I am not going to share haha cause that was the hook not the meat). What I am trying to get at is that maybe we need a new prescription -not for tight frames- but for a frame of reference or just a Bible reference or two.
Let’s lead people to Jesus not to their “perfect bodies.” Let us desire the mind of Christ.
I leave you with this:
1. A video about what John Piper has to say on the requirement of suffering. It is powerful.
2. A question to ponder and discuss: If you are not in pain, are you really living?