Recent blog posts have lead to this exploration of the relationship between following Christ and experiencing pain. It’s a given that the way of Jesus will lead to suffering. The question is really what our emotional attachment is to this suffering.
Everytime I think I’ve got a grasp on how to approach this question I have to do a double take. I suddenly realized there’s just this whole other side to it that I haven’t yet pondered. My friendly readers (perhaps cheifly Billy) will be glad to know that I’m not planning on turning this into a series of 87 blog posts.
Instead, I’ll simply agnowledge that it’s a much more complicated question that I thought. And make a couple general commments.
#1) There’s a host of suspect motivations for seeking out pain. For example, we sometimes believe we deserve to be punished. We sometimes like the attention suffering brings. And let’s not even get started on all the icky sexual things…
#2) It does seem like suffering might be a way for us to be with Christ. That’s a good thing.
Most importantly… and perhaps related to number 2…
If I’m right about the nature of victory in Christ, if the idea is that we undercome before we overcome, then it seems like a key aspect of this is taking in that which is painful. Christ isn’t about waving a wand from the outside, and reversing something. He is about internalizing a thing; his method of transformation is almost an act of digestion.
It seems like a critical aspect of this is to actual go through the pain, not around it. Jesus didn’t bypass death. He went through it. Transcendence is so much greater than avoidance. And to transcend a thing, we must be in the middle of it first.