Suffering is part of the Christian life and how we respond to it matters a lot. The worst that happens is giving up the faith due to challenging times. These blogs will open your eyes and address critical questions about the theology of suffering. Our prayer is that you will have a biblical understanding and approach to handling suffering.
It is becoming more and more challenging to come into terms with suffering today. Many Christians, including pastors and even counsellors who ought to be guiding people on how to deal with tough times, are committing suicide. Recently a pastor in the USA who was struggling with depression committed suicide. It was so disappointing.
Accepting that a good God can allow his people to suffer is not easy for most Christians, especially with this age of prosperity gospel. Many people are ready to do anything to get a solution to their problems hence the panda mbegu saga. After the consistent condemnation of this, it has revolved to new terms that sound Biblical but highly misused. Some of these phrases are “building an altar, destroying an altar, or giving a sacrifice.” Every issue you go through breaks by “destroying altars” in your life and the only way to do this is sowing a seed (inform of an envelope) to be prayed for as this is the only way things can change. The prescription for seed is given, and the major one is that it must be a “sacrifice” meaning something that pains you to give. It hurts me to see scriptures quote out of context to justify this behaviour.
Miracles in the New Testament
We have around 81 miracles in the New Testament. After doing a good survey of these miracles, you will find that nobody was asked to “build an altar” or to “sacrifice” for their blessing. When they confronted Jesus with the question of the man who was born blind whether it is his parents, Jesus responded that it was neither his sins or that of his parents but so that the power of God may be displayed (John 9:1-7). People’s sufferings ware an opportunity to glorify God and lead many to salvation. Sufferings were not an opportunity to make money. Every time the apostles performed miracles, they directed people to God and never to themselves. The power to do miracles is a movement of the Holy Spirit and therefore charging people for this to happen is not biblical. Miracles are acts of grace.
Old Testament versus New Testament
The second issue I would like to address here is the use of the Old Testament to justify the destroying of altars with sacrifices. One area of the Old Testament commonly used to justify destroying altars with sacrifices is the story of Gideon destroying the Baal altars on which his father used to offer sacrifices. Then Gideon later offered a sacrifice to God to worship him. This process of destroying altars and offering sacrifices is not repeated in the New Testament, because there was one final sacrifice made, the death of Jesus. He is the one and final sacrifice we need in our life. Looking at the Old Testament in its meaning would not justify the destroying altar ideology. The sacrifice of Christ was sufficient. He was cursed so that we could be blessed. He was crushed so that we could be healed. Therefore, we don’t need to destroy altars and offer sacrifices we only need to have faith in Christ and walk in obedience to him. Just because many have subscribed to this teaching of destroying altars does not make it right. It was never a practice of the early church and not even the practice of the church fathers who took after the apostles. It is a modern concept of getting deep in the pockets of desperate Christians who desperately need solutions to their problems and are ready to do anything for that to happen.
Think with your Bible Open
Let no one tell you that there is another sacrifice you need to offer apart from Christ’s sacrifice. Paul was a great miracle worker, a powerful preacher, and in spite of this, the Bereans checked him out to see if he was sound. We need Bereans today, Christians who will not subscribe to any teachings regardless of who is preaching. We need faithful Christians who think with their Bibles open.