When a society prospers and enjoys great security it’s inevitable that false ideas about life, death, truth, and God will flourish with little resistance. Conversely, when tragedy strikes, those same people no longer want what once tickled their ears but they want answers and truth.
Sadly this same axiom is true for the visible Church. As American Christians continue to gluttonously indulge themselves on the riches and excesses of life that the West has to offer, they tolerate and even welcome all sorts of twisted ideas about life, death, truth, and God.
Some segments of the Church will tell you that God wants you to be rich and healthy and that if you’re not, you must be lacking faith. Another segment of the church will tell you that no one can know anything for sure (e.g. Emergents). And yet another segment will sacrifice any inconvenient truths of Scripture for popularity and the ever increasing appeal to entertain their members.
However, when your child is diagnosed with leukemia how will Your Best Life Now sound? When your spouse is unexpectedly killed by a drunk driver how will your Purpose Driven Life feel then? When a global famine strikes or the stock market crashes will positive confession and naming it and claiming it still have its place in your life? When a deadly plague spreads from nation to nation killing millions and war breaks out killing even more, does the ambiguity and total lack of certainty about anything give you any hope and comfort?
Whether the suffering is personal or global, the world will want answers that most churches cannot provide and are utterly incapable of providing.
I want to share with you this passionate ten-minute audio clip from John Piper that he delivered to a group of pastors. I’ve entitled it The Suffering of John Bunyan vs Chipper Churches and in it Piper contrasts the suffering of Bunyan with that of the chipper churches of today. This only serves to reinforce why it is better to sit under the preaching of a pastor who has suffered great loss (whose sermons have the smell of Hell permeating about them) than it is to sit under the teaching of one who hasn’t (as you’re pressured to conform to the everything’s happy-clappy facade that he and the rest of the church are putting on).
These chipper churches are whitewashed tombs that can only offer a sick and dying world a counterfeit Christianity; a Christianity without a cross. True Christianity has always been marked by suffering. Jesus promised His disciples that they would suffer great hardships and that they’d be hated by the world. It’s only the modern cultural Christianity of ease, comfort, and luxury that has suggested otherwise.
I strongly encourage you to listen to the Piper audio clip and then ask yourself; when your lifeless child hangs in your arms on Friday, will you find truth, hope, and answers in the preaching from the pulpit of your current church on Sunday?
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4)