From Bondage to the Desert – 1.6 The Theology of Glory vs. the Theology of the Cross -1

Sometimes Christians tend to live as if the end times have already come and as if nothing bad can touch them (we call this technically a ‘theology of glory’). We even quote Bible verses like Psalm 91:7 in order to justify such triumphalism.

Yet when we do this, we forget that even if the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated in the first coming of Jesus Christ, it will not be fully established until Christ the Lord returns in glory.

Until then, we have to be aware that because we are ‘not of this world’ (John 17:16), the enemies of God will hate and persecute us, as they did our Lord (John 17:14). In other words, we need a biblical view of suffering (this is what we call technically ‘a theology of the cross’).

1.6.1 God May Allow Us to Suffer

The biblical example of Job shows us that God may indeed allow us to suffer, and for reasons that are not always revealed to us. Yet we can find comfort in the fact that if we suffer for the sake of Christ, we will receive a rich reward from our Lord, who himself suffered so much for us.

This is why we need to avoid any sort of triumphalism. We have not yet reached heaven, and we may be allowed to suffer as do our fellow human beings. It would not be fair if God were to protect us from the pain and affliction that other people experience in this world because of the fallenness of the creation, simply because we are his children. If he were to do so, people would be tempted to believe in him just for the benefits that they would obtain, which would make the life of faith sound like a simple bargain.

Such a debased picture is not worthy of the Christian God as he is revealed in the Bible. God makes his sun shine equally on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matt. 5:45), so that no one can accuse him of any partiality. And although the presence of pain in the world and particularly the suffering of believers has been a major stumbling block for the faith of many people, in the end God will be vindicated in all his decisions, as also happened in the case of Job (see Job 42:1–6).

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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