OceanSide church of Christ
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WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE
Reasons #12 & #13
Victor M. Eskew
A. The saints who lived in Rome when Paul wrote to them were under the reign of Claudius.
1. Christians were declared to be rebels and instigators.
2. “A catalogue of their situation would include material suffering, physical affliction, vocational tribulation, family abandonment, and personal calamity” (21 Reasons, Earley, 100).
B. These were good people. They loved Jesus and were obedient citizens. Why would such bad things allowed to come upon such good people?
I. WE SUFFER TO BE CONFORMED INTO THE IMAGE OF GOD’S SON
A. Romans 8:29
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
B. As the Master Sculpture, God seeks to shape us into the image of His Son.
1. Sometimes this process involves the pain of the hammer and chisel.
2. Michelangelo took three years to create the statue of David, one of the world’s most recognized sculptures. It stands as tall as a double-decker bus and weighs a staggering six tons.
a. It is said that a boy asked the craftsman how he knew which parts of the stone to take off. The artist answered: “I take off everything that does not look like David.”
b. “What does God chisel from our lives through suffering? The short answer is that through our hardships He chisels off anything that keeps us from being like Jesus. What characteristics keep us from Christlike-ness? They would include self-centeredness, selfishness, self-righteous-ness, self-sufficiency, and self-pity. There is also pride, arrogance, lust, greed, jealousy, envy, insensitivity, harshness, cruelty, apathy, and laziness. We could add dishonesty, deceitfulness, resentment, doubt, and fear. I left some off, but I think you get the idea. God’s goal is for us to be more Christ-like” (21 Reasons, Earley, 103).
c. J.I. Packer: “When in God’s providence believers are exposed to the pressures of being isolated, opposed, tempted, humbled, disappointed, and hurt, the divine purpose is that these things should further our transformation into the likeness of our Savior” (as quoted by Earley, 105).
II. WE SUFFER TO REMIND US THAT WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST
A. The church is often referred to as “the body of Christ.”
1. I Corinthians 12:27
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.
2. Ephesians 1:22-23
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
B. The concept of the church as a body has many ramifications.
1. It is a living organism (Eph. 4:16).
2. To live, the body needs nourishment (Matt. 4:10; I Pet. 2:2).
3. The body is to submit itself to the Head, Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18).
4. The body of composed of many different kinds of members (I Cor. 12:12-17).
5. The members have a relationship that exists between them.
a. This relationship is essential for life (cut off a finger from the body and just put it in a plastic bag and it will die).
b. This relationship is very intimate in nature.
c. This relationship is supposed to be one of “mutual dependency.”
C. Mutual dependency
a. Mutual: reciprocal, the idea of exchange between two or more persons, give and take, interactive, interdependent
b. Dependency: to rely upon someone else for aid
2. When one member suffers, the other members of the body are energized on behalf of the hurting member (I Cor. 12:25-26).
That there should be no schism in the body; but that all the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.
a. One of the first examples of this is found in the early days of the church.
1) Acts 2:44-45
And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
2) Acts 4:34-35
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
b. When Peter was in prison, the church prayed for him (Acts 12:5).
Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.
c. “My church acted as the hands and feet of Christ. My family received meals each night from January until my kids got out of school in June. My home was cleaned each week by teams of women from the church until I could manage it myself. I also had two women a day who sat with me once I came home…This was such a large amount of volunteerism, but I was never, ever made to feel like anybody minded the extra work” (21 Reasons, Earley, 110).
4. Some members of the church are very good at practicing the concept of “mutual dependence.”
a. They send cards.
b. They make visits.
c. The prepare food.
d. The make phone calls.
e. They give money.
f. They used their time and talents to assist others.
g. They pray often for others.
h. They spend the night with others.
i. They baby sit.
j. They carry individuals to appointments.
5. NOTE: If there were no suffering, many of the things that the body of Christ does would not have to be done. We would become more isolated from one another. We would not learn to love and care for each other. We would not develop mutual admiration for one another.
A. One of the desires of every Christian should be to become more like Jesus. To do this, we must be sculpted by the Father in heaven. The chisel and hammer can inflict pain, but the result of resembling the Redeemer is worth it.
B. When one suffers, the body of Christ is energized on that individual’s behalf. We are reminded that we are members of a body designed to “rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Rom. 12:15).