Friday, May 1, 2009

Christian Masochism

Christians can go through the same hard times that unbelievers go through. In fact, sometimes we have it worse than the unbelievers in this life.

Our brothers and sisters early on in the Church of Christ experienced horrible things. They were beaten by the religious and thrown to the lions by the pagans. Our brothers have been persecuted, tortured and killed. In some parts of the world, this still happens.

I am very thankful for the freedom we still have in this country to follow Jesus without the fear of being tortured or martyred.

But I am concerned about some Christian's (including my own) desire to be persecuted for their faith in Christ. This is something I would constantly mull over before I surrendered to the grace of God. I would evaluate myself, my sincerity and my sins and believe that if only I could endure persecution, I would prove myself to be genuine. Then I would finally be free from the love of this world.

But something struck me - The early Church I read about in Acts didn't want to be persecuted and killed. They were so paranoid about Paul, they wouldn't let him around them after his conversion for fear that he was trying to trick them. They didn't enjoy being persecuted! They didn't go looking for it. It came to them.

In fact, Paul criticizes people who are into masochism and asceticism. He says they appear very spiritual with their self-made religion and harsh treatment of the body, but none of it has the ability to restrain the desires of the flesh.

The early Church didn't seek pain, it naturally came to them. They didn't evaluate themselves. They didn't evaluate their faith. They evaluated Jesus. They evaluated what he had done for them. They mulled over the wonderful truth that their sins were forgiven and that death and pain were nothing to be feared any longer. They understood that death is just a step through the veil where they would finally see clearly the face of their Creator.

They didn't look at pain or death. They looked to what lay ahead.


Joel B. said...

Great thoughts. I've thought about similar things, but never have looked at it in the way you share here!

Matthew Campbell said...

Thanks, Joel.

I enjoy writing stuff like this out. It helps me to see things clearly.

I love going through and reading Acts to see how the Church went about things. It helps me.

I also love listening to the sermons they preached. In listening to the sermons, you get a glimpse as to what was their focus.

And I'm afraid that their focus isn't the same as ours.

We preach sermon after sermon on behavior, while they sought to consistently reveal Jesus in the Scriptures.

LaMagdalena said...

A very good point, that no one should go looking for persecution or misery, but the reason behind that is important.

You shouldn't go looking to be martyred in any fashion because doing so encourages pride and presumption. "Look at me, I'm suffering for God, I must be a good person, holier than thou!!"

So you're absolutely right.

But at the same time... you can be a masochist and Christian without any conflict. Rather than look for suffering (believe me it will come to you), you accept it when it comes and thank God for reminding you of how much you need him. Without some misery we always forget that we depend entirely upon God for our happiness. A Christian masochist sees the value in pain and embraces it as one more way to turn to God and worship =)