Bonnie & I are getting to teach the same course this week for students in Scotland, Ireland & Australia–that we taught 25 years ago while we were serving in Tulsa, Oklahoma! I am so amazed at the timeless truths God gives us on pain, suffering, the agony of waiting, and waiting, and waiting that haven’t changed in 5,000 years. The responses from our students are heart-warming, the struggles they are facing are heart-wrenching, and God’s grace is AVAILABLE and APPROPRIATED! We are thrilled to minister, to be instruments in God’s Hands. Here are the original classes so you can track what we get to teach this week.
GOD’S PLAN FOR OUR SUFFERING Part II
About 150 years after Christ, Christianity had grown to become the dominant force in the ancient Roman Empire. In fact, the speed at which the Christians were martyred was only surpassed by the speed at which more people were coming to Christ. It led some to say that the blood of the martyrs had become the seed of the Church.
So there was a considerable effort by the pagan Romans to analyze what was going on with this movement called “The Way” or Christianity or “Disciples” as they were called in Antioch in Acts chapter 11. One of the pagans that analyzed Christianity wrote a letter to the Roman Emperor at that time whose name was Hadrian. Hadrian is known as a great builder. Many of his edifices are still standing in the city of Rome today such as the Pantheon and the Villa d’Este in the Italian countryside.
Hadrian received this letter and it has been recorded and preserved for us in Roman history. I think it is a fitting introduction to our study of the plan that God has for us as we suffer. That plan is that we are to see God more clearly.
Here is the letter:
“The Christians know and trust their God. They placate those who oppress them and make their enemies their friends. They do good to their enemies. Their wives are absolutely pure and their daughters are modest. Their men abstain from unlawful marriages, and all other impurities. If any of them have bondwomen or children, they persuade them to become Christians for the love they have toward them; and when they become so, they call them “brother” without distinction. They love one another. They rescue the orphan from him who does him violence. He who has gives ungrudgingly to him that has not. If they see a stranger, they take him into their dwellings and rejoice over him as over a real brother; for they do not call each other brother after the flesh, but after the Spirit of God. If any among them is poor and needy, and they do not have food to spare, they fast two or three days that they may supply him with necessary food. But, the deeds, which they do, they do not proclaim to the ears of the multitude, but they take care that no man shall perceive them. Thus they labor to become righteous. Truly, this is a new people and there is something divine in them.”
Letter is written to the Roman Emperor Hadrian
This is an interesting observation. In our current society, I am not sure we would get that favorable of coverage by the secular press.
The line in this letter that I want to underscore in your mind is “They placate those who oppress them and make their enemies their friends.”
You see God has a plan for us when we suffer and that plan is that God allows us to experience in our lives those blessed and divine empowerments or divine enduements that we can only experience when we are suffering.
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