Have you ever felt as if God has forgotten to give you your assignment? You’ve made yourself available, but there’s no direction. You feel overlooked. You feel unused. Perhaps you conclude that you aren’t spiritual enough for God to use you.
Then you go to church and hear yet another sermon on the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30). It leaves you feeling both frustrated and guilty. Yes, you want to invest what God has given you. But you don’t know how. What are you supposed to do?
After reading scores of stories describing how my Christian brothers and sisters are suffering and dying for their faith, I had to stop and ask, doesn’t God see this? Doesn’t God care? How can the good, loving God I know let such horrors happen to His chosen people?
I was having a hard time getting around these thoughts when I came across an article written by a contributor from the Middle East, and adapted for INcontextMinistries by Mike Burnard. (You can see the original adaptation here.) That article has provided the inspiration for some of my thoughts here.
We in the West are too comfortable. We have a hard time acknowledging that our God might ask us to suffer social ostracism, ridicule, or insult. Even more abhorrent is the idea that we might suffer physical loss for following Jesus. “Sacrifice” means getting up Sunday morning and going to church instead of lying around in bed reading the newspaper. (And our pastor had better finish the sermon in time for the afternoon football game!) While we hope that we would be willing to die for our faith, in reality we suspect that that level of commitment will never be put to the test. Thus, our theology can’t accommodate the true suffering of others.