Up@dawn 2.0

Monday, April 24, 2017

Section #8 Installment 1 : Why does God allow Christians to go through suffering?

Good evening family, as I write this I hope y'all are doing well. Tonight we're going to go through John 15:1-11, and we're going to see what happens when we follow Jesus.

Father God, I thank you for the people reading this, and I pray that their hearts be stirred by your word. Lord, I pray for blessings over them, and that they feel your love and grace through your Holy Spirit. Be with me as I write this, and guide me as I walk others towards you. I pray these things in the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

So to kind of get a running start, I want to let y'all know what's going on so we get the context of this passage. So as we get to John 15, we're literally hours away from Jesus being betrayed by one of his disciples, arrested, and crucified on a Roman cross for the purification of our sins. In fact, at this point, Jesus is going to talk to his disciples about how to follow Christ while living in this sinful and broken world. So before you ask, "where does philosophy come into this," I'll let you in on it. So the thought process of some people I've talked to is, "If I follow Jesus, my life will be painless" or "I have a friend who's Christian, and yet he has a lot of bad things happen in his life. Shouldn't he be prospering with God and not suffering?" To answer this idea that life will be "painless" with Jesus, not quite. In fact you'll see why as we jump into the text. So starting in John 15:1,

“[1]I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. [2]Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. [3]Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. [4]Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. [5]I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. [6]If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. [7]If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. [8]By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. [9]As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. [10]If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. [11]These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."

So starting with verse one, Jesus is clear that he is the vine, and God the Father is the vinedresser, which is a way of saying he is the one who takes care of the vineyard. Now, verse two really begins to poke holes at the thought process of those I described above. You see, like Jesus says in verse five, we are the branches, and so God, as he works through the vineyard is creating the most fruitful vineyard in history. However, for those of you who garden, you probably noticed one thing in verse two that I am going to use to explain why a life with Jesus isn't pain free. "[2b] and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." For those of you who, like me, didn't know what "prunes" meant when you first read it, it means to cut or trim branches to increase growth. This means that in order for Christians to bear more fruit of the Spirit, they must undergo pruning. This means difficult times, rough times, times where everything seems to be going completely wrong. This means that following God isn't always going to be easy and wonderful. In fact, Jesus even tells us this plain and clear later in the chapter that the world is going to hate those who love Jesus because we are not of the world, and will have the same hate as they had towards Jesus himself. So how is it that through the difficult times of following Jesus, do we who love Jesus and follow Jesus continue to pursue Him in the midst of the pruning and the painful times? Well, let's look at the rest of the passage. Jesus is clear that abiding in him, his word, and his love will get those followers of Christ through the pruning, through the times where suffering occurs. In fact, what's interesting is, John uses the word "abide" nine times in the first eleven verses alone. And to be more specific, the word he uses is meno, which means to reside; remain; stay. So for John to say that Jesus uses this word that much means Jesus is driving home a big point. For those who bear fruit, those who believe and follow Jesus, the way to get through the suffering and the pruning is to REMAIN IN, STAY IN, RESIDE IN, and TRUST IN Jesus! God isn't allowing certain difficulties to happen for nothing. He is trying to grow your faith, help you bear more fruit, and bring you closer to Him.

So the question I have for you is, are you a fruitful branch? A branch that gets pruned from time to time, abiding in Jesus and his words? Or are you a branch that doesn't bear fruit? One that isn't abiding in Jesus, trusting Jesus, and thus cannot do anything spiritually. God uses difficult times to grow us spiritually, make us bear more fruit, and remind us that we must rely on him for all things. I don't where any of y'all are with Jesus, but I encourage you to take the philosophical question of, "Why does God allow Christians to go through suffering" and look at verses like John 15:1-11 and see that it's with Jesus, that any of us can make it through this life on earth with true hope, joy, and love. You can look towards any philosopher you'd like, but I can guarantee you that none of them will truly transform your life like God can.

Father God, Abba, I love you, and I thank you for every single person who comes across this. I know I didn't go into every part of the passage like I wanted to because of how long this post was getting, but I pray you bless it and use it to touch others. I thank you for your word. I thank you for peace and joy in knowing that no matter what struggle I go through in this life on this side of heaven, that I have a Father who is always working for my good as Romans 8:28 says. I love you. I praise you. It's in the glorious name of King Jesus, Amen.

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  1. Very interesting. I don't recall anyone actually praying within the body of a course submission before.

    "the philosophical question of, "Why does God allow Christians to go through suffering" - the more philosophical, less pre-loaded question is: "Why do humans suffer?" A philosopher must approach this question without begging it, without presupposing a doctrinal answer. Then, we can wonder if there are non-doctrinal candidates for consideration. There are. One candidate is the possibility that suffering is not an allowance but a condition of existence in an indifferent universe. The onus for lessening suffering then falls not beyond us but squarely on our own shoulders.