This past Sunday Pastor Matt talked about two big ideas, suffering and God’s glory. This conversation will probably work better if we’re all on the same page with these words.
How do you define suffering?
How do you define God’s glory? I’m not sure if this article is helpful for you, but it may work as a bit of a primer on a very big theological theme.
Suffering is a bit more straightforward to define, (a link if you need it), but God’s glory could be best defined as, “The outward radiance of the intrinsic worth and beauty and greatness of his manifold perfections.” (That’s from John Piper)
Pastor Matt asked a very big, and very difficult question. Read Acts 12:1-19 to set the stage.
There are several levels of suffering at work in this passage. What do you see? Is there any unfairness, or injustice described here? Note verses 2, 11, and v19. How do you deal with these deaths? How do you feel about God’s role or seeming absence in each verse?
Pastor Matt said that the prayer of the early church was that they would suffer with boldness. They didn’t consider this spiritual warfare in the way we often do today, they simply looked at their suffering as a way which God could be glorified (don’t forget our definitions above).
Read the believers prayer in Acts 4:23-31, particularly verses containing the word “boldness” (vs. 29 & 31), how do you process these three words together now… boldness, suffering, and God’s glory? How does the prayer of the early Christians make you feel?
As an aside, It’s interesting to notice that the first martyr is recorded just 4 chapters later in chapter 7, the stoning of Stephen.
Last week we discussed being called to not just build lives of comfort, but now we seem to be called to pray for boldness! Pastor Matt spoke of how praying for God to be glorified is easier to pray for himself than it is to pray for his children. How do you feel about praying for your kids to be bold if you knew it would mean them suffering for the glory of God?
No matter what the situation, we know that Christ will not abandon us. And when we fail to speak out and live boldly, we’re reminded that Jesus has done this already for us as well. Yet we’re given a mission, a charge, and to pursue it is to glorify God and find joy in him!
Finish off with Matthew 28:16-20 Think of your family, occupation, social circles, neighbourhood, etc. Where can you live out this mission this week? Who do you know that needs the hope of Christ this week?