Suffering for doing good

Do we really suffer for doing good?  What if I said yes?  Looking at the image below, we see Jesus Christ on the cross.  He suffered for doing good.  While some (many?) will disagree, that doesn’t make it any less true.  And while you may claim it’s not your truth, I must remind you of something.  Ultimately, if the Bible is truth, your truth is false if you don’t believe Jesus is the Son of God.  We’ll all find out, one day.

Suffering for doing goodBut here’s the thing.  If you honestly look at Christianity for what it says it is, for what’s in the Bible as opposed to what people turn it into, why would you not want it to be true?  That last statement has a lot to do with the name of this site: God versus religion.  God – versus what people have turned Him into in the name of religion.  So please, I invite you to bear with me.  See why we all suffer for doing good.  Even the good things we do in these Coronavirus times – even if we don’t get sick or die in the process.

So here’s the concept.  Jesus did the ultimate good.  He suffered – was tortured and died a horrible death.  If we’re Christian, we suffer in the act of doing good, just as Jesus told us we would.  Maybe we get sick or even die in the process.  But then that’s the end of our suffering.

If we’re not Christian, we have the same likelihood of getting sick and dying while trying to help with the Coronavirus.  However, the difference is that it’s not the end of the suffering.

As I said, that may not be your truth.  But it’s God’s truth, whether you accept it or not.  But then, what’s your alternative?  If you’re the kind of person who wants to do the right things, who wants to help when someone needs it, what else do you want?  What does your view of the next life have that makes it so objectionable to go to Heaven?

Let’s follow through those thoughts and see what comes out of it.

Suffering for doing good – for a Christian

Christians should, and I emphasize should, do good for one simple reason.  It’s what Jesus asks of us.  No – commands us to do.  He died on the cross for us.  And among other things we’re taught are these two.

Love for Enemies – Matthew

Mt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

That one’s tough.  Love even the people we hate.  Help people we can’t stand.  For example, don’t use the Coronavirus to call out people you don’t like and blame them for the virus.  The Christians that do things like that, no matter how high up in the church hierarchy or in the political arena, are not doing what we were taught to do.  They are not following Jesus.

That’s part of why I emphasized the word should earlier.  We should love our enemies.  When we fail to do that, we also fail at being a true Christian.  Please – don’t blame God for our shortcomings.  But especially, don’t blame God for those who use His name to continually do things that are so blatantly not Christian.

As an example, here’s something else Jesus taught.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

10:25-28 pp — Mt 22:34-40; Mk 12:28-31

Lk 10:25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Lk 10:26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

Lk 10:27 He answered: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’’”

Lk 10:28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

Lk 10:29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Lk 10:30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Lk 10:36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Lk 10:37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

This is something along the lines of what Jesus might have said to the pastor below:

In a blog post titled “Is God Judging America Today?” a pastor who leads a weekly bible study group for members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet appeared to blame the coronavirus pandemic on several groups, including those who have “a proclivity toward lesbianism and homosexuality.”

America “is experiencing the consequential wrath of God,” the Rev. Ralph Drollinger wrote in a lengthy March 21 “Bible study” on his Capitol Ministries blog, which caused outrage among several national LGBTQ advocacy groups.

In addition to gays and lesbians, Drollinger — who The New York Times recently referred to as the Trump Cabinet’s “shadow diplomat” — also laid blame on people with “depraved minds,” environmentalists and those who deny the existence of God for igniting “God’s wrath.”  [1]https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/trump-s-bible-teacher-says-gays-among-those-blame-covid-n1168981

Samaritans were hated by Jews in Jesus’ time.  And so they were His example of how His followers should treat people.  Pick the worst possible choice, and tell them to go above and beyond to show love for whoever they hated the most.  Today, a good example would be to switch from Samaritan to gay person.  Please note here – I’m not saying the Bible approves of the lifestyle.  However, I am saying that Jesus tells us not to hate people who make that choice.  In fact, we’re to love them.  More on that later as well.

And so, we do good things because that’s just part of what we believe.  As James puts it:

Faith and Deeds

Jas 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Jas 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Jas 2:20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless ? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

Jas 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

We don’t do good things in order to become Christian.  Not in order to have Jesus love us.  He already does.  No – we do good things because Jesus loves us, because we are Christian, trying to follow in His footsteps.

Going back to that word should – anyone who claims to be Christian and does what they call “good” things isn’t really acting as a Christian.

Here’s a somewhat lengthy explanation of what I mean.  Hopefully it’s a reminder for Christians.  And maybe it’s news for non-Christians.

On Divisions in the Church

1Co 3:1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere men?

This is part of the reason some (many?) Christians don’t live up to Jesus’ standard.  The reality, as every Christian should admit, is that we’ll never live up to it.  Not on this side of Heaven.  But to the extent that we stay as beginning Christians, we also never get much beyond what we were before we became Christians.

We have to remember, and non-Christians should also learn, yes – Jesus loves us.  However – He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.  It’s about transitioning from what we were / are to what we can be when we follow Jesus and what we will be if we make it to Heaven. 

And that’s why it’s so important to keep in mind that word should.  We all need to keep our eyes on what Christianity should be about.  Because that’s what Heaven ultimately is about.  And as I said, why wouldn’t someone who wants to do good want that?

1Co 3:5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

The issue back then was that people were teaching different things about what they thought Christianity should be.  There’s that word again.  The problem is that some of those things weren’t what Jesus said His followers should be like.  They were people’s ideas.  Today, again, an example is the Rev. Ralph Drollinger.  He’s just wrong.  What he says is not at all what Jesus taught.  It’s downright scary that so many people think like he does.  Especially among the top people in our government.  

1Co 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

In that paragraph and the remaining ones, Paul points out that he follows what Jesus taught.  Nothing more and nothing less.

But notice this: If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It’s an analogy.  Things built by followers of Jesus with gold, silver and costly stones are the things we do that actually follow what Jesus taught.  Those built with wood and straw are the ones that don’t. 

Every time a Christian does something in the name of God that isn’t what Jesus taught – it’s burned up.  To God, it’s worthless, even if it was something we considered to be good.  Acts of hatred, even words of hatred, in God’s name are wrong.  Worthless.  To be burned up.  Even if the speaker thought they were being Christian. 

So again, please don’t blame God for the things people do in His name that aren’t what He commands of His followers.  Because those people aren’t following Him when God Himself is going to burn up their works and their words.

1Co 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

1Co 3:18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Finally, Paul warns Christians to know who we’re following.  Before condemning Christianity, it’s good for non-Christians to know the same things.

Suffering no more for doing good

Jesus promises His followers eternity with Him.  Part of that includes something that’s impossible for me to fathom.  But I trust that, somehow, it’s going to happen.  I wrote about it in Wipe away every tear from their eyes: the greatest miracle?  It’s from a passage in Revelation.

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Normally, I give context and explanation, as you’ve seen.  But since this is from Revelation, which is very hard to understand and I’m really trying to reach non-Christians with this message – I’m not going to do that.  I’ll just say that a promise to wipe away all my tears seems impossible.  And yet. that’s what God promises.  Why would I want to hope for any scenario where that’s not true?

Suffering for doing good – for a non-Christian

Now, for the non-Christians that, hopefully, are still reading.  What did you object to in what you’ve read so far?  Most likely, it’s that I brought up God.  But I still ask you to bear with me.  Are you afraid to look at a viewpoint where God does in fact exist?  Where God, as He describes Himself in the Bible, is real? 

I hope not.  When I was really angry, I tried to look at things your way.  Didn’t want God to exist.  Having an idea that what the Bible says about God is very different than what many so-called Christians say about God, it’s pretty much impossible to believe He doesn’t exist.  I believe it takes a much greater degree of faith to believe that this universe was all random chance than it does to believe it was created by God.  For just one example where science and the Bible agree very much, as opposed to the opinions out there that science and the Bible are incompatible, please see It’s time for Christians to acknowledge what Darwin REALLY did.

So hang in there.  Keep reading.  Please.

God created man in his own image

 

Many non-Christians are at least somewhat aware of the passage below.  Sometimes for the wrong reasons, but still aware of it.

Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Now, consider that most people have some concept of right and wrong.  Good and evil.  A conscience.  In Where is God in the Coronavirus? , I went into that in more detail.  But part of what it says is to consider the fact that when we have the urge to do something good, it comes from our conscience.  Part of what we got when we were created by God. 

Because we live in a world where both good and evil exist, what we end up with is a pale image of what God really is.  We sin.  And while some like to say there’s no such thing as right and wrong, each person determines what’s right for them, I wonder – how many people have no objection to someone else killing them, simply because that other person doesn’t think it’s wrong?  I dare say, no one that’s sane.  We pretty much all have some sense of right and wrong.  Some semblance of a conscience.

So – when that urge to good comes, say to help an elderly family by shopping for them during the Coronavirus, where does that come from?  It comes from the conscience that God gave you.  

Christians believe the battle is between good and evil.  As I said, few would doubt that something along those lines is happening.  The question is whether is God vs Satan – or something else.  For this discussion, let’s go with God versus Satan.  Along the way, we’ll evaluate that choice.

So you want to do a good thing – and you suffer for doing that good thing

Let’s continue with our Coronavirus example.  You want to go shopping for your elderly neighbors.  Let’s say you catch the virus.  You’re going to suffer, most likely.  You might even die because of it.  And from what we read, it’s awful suffering along the way to death.  This is true for the Christian and the non-Christian.

Here’s the big question.  What happens after you die?  I wrote a piece several years ago titled The problem of “a Better Place”.  It poses a question.  If you think you’re going to a better place, for most of us that better place is Heaven.  People who don’t even try to follow God think they’re somehow going to go to Heaven.  There’s one really huge problem with that.  Heaven is God’s.  We don’t get to decide who goes to Heaven, any more than a stranger gets to insist that they’re going to start living in your house from now on and you’re going to give them everything they need.

If we don’t believe in God, don’t want to follow His words for us in the Bible, why do we think we’re going to Heaven when we die?  Even though we did nice things, like going shopping for the elderly neighbors, is that going to get us into Heaven?  The Bible tells us the answer.  It’s no!

There’s a verse in Matthew that makes this clear.  Normally I give context, but this is another case where the context won’t help someone who’s not familiar with Christianity.  The setting is Jesus giving instructions to His disciples.  They’re about to go out and preach the Gospel people who don’t yet know it.  One of the things Jesus tells them is this:

Mt 10:32 “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”

Who gets the credit?

Who gets the credit is a really big deal. 

Do we acknowledge that we’re created by God, and in His image?  Or do we deny it?

Do we acknowledge that our conscience is from God?  Or do we deny it?  When we have an urge to do something good for others, with no ulterior motives, just an unselfish act, do we acknowledge that’s from God?  Or do we deny it?

When we deny it, we disown God.  God, our creator, wants us to be His children.  But we disown Him.  It goes all the way back to Exodus.  Something else non-Christians tend to not like, but we really must take it in context.  And in culture.  Not to mention, in our time.  Let’s look at it.

Ten Commandments of the Old Testament
The Ten Commandments – Exodus

20:1-17 pp — Dt 5:6-21

Ex 20:1 And God spoke all these words:

Ex 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Ex 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
Ex 20:4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Ex 20:7 “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
Ex 20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
Ex 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
Ex 20:13 “You shall not murder.
Ex 20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.
Ex 20:15 “You shall not steal.
Ex 20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
Ex 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Yeah – all those you shall not.  Or the ever popular Thou shalt not.  Don’t do this.  Don’t do that.  Don’t, don’t and more don’t.

But you know what?  That’s Old Testament.  Old Covenant.  Before Jesus.  

The Two Commandments

How many of you, especially the non-Christians, know about this passage.

The Greatest Commandment – Matthew

22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31

Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Yeah – two of them.  They don’t do away with the original ten.  But they also aren’t in the form of Thou shalt not.  Rather, they are in the much friendlier Do this.  Few disagree with most of the Ten Commandments.  Even with something like adultery, which is almost like a game to many people, it’s still done in secret because we pretty much know it’s wrong.  

So we take something people don’t like, because it’s too negative.  I mean, who thinks it’s OK to lie, cheat, steal and murder?  And yet, even though that’s most of the Ten Commandments, people don’t like them.  What else is there besides the wording that we don’t like?

Who gets the credit – again?

And then we have: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  Once again, give God the credit for what He has done.  Not someone else.  Not ourselves.  Imagine a world where nothing of the Ten Commandments existed.  Lying, cheating, adultery, stealing and murder are all OK.  Not only that, they are normal.  They happen all the time, even more than today.  How can that be?  Because they aren’t wrong.  They’re perfectly legal, because there are no laws!  It’s really jungle rules. 

Every person for themselves and the strongest survives.  Isn’t that what evolution and modern psychology point us towards?  It’s the ultimate end for those who claim God doesn’t exist.  Because all those things our society depends on to exist came from God.  All the way down to that tiny  little urge for you to shop for your elderly neighbors during the Coronavirus.  Even though you know you could get sick and die in the process.

Do you know Jesus said:

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.

It’s part of the passage below.  

The Vine and the Branches

Jn 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Jn 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Jn 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.”

 

Although the entire passage is beyond the scope of our discussion, I included it anyway.  If you like to know more about it, please check out the articles on this page.  For a deeper look at specifically, please read Greater love has no one … .

Conclusion – Suffering for doing good

I hope you agree that the argument for God versus Satan being a description of our world makes sense, especially if you’ve taken the time to read the referenced articles.  It’s really too big of a topic to cover in one piece.  

In short, everything good comes from God.  Everything.  Each one of us.  The conscience that God gave us.  The desires to do good things.  And while there are plenty of things wrong with each one of us, God still gives us those things.  He loves us.  Yes, God loves us as we are.  But God also loves us too much to leave us where we are.  He wants us to be more like Jesus.  Not necessarily the Jesus you see on Sunday morning televangelist shows, or on TV infomercials promising you lots of money, or from the hate filled mouths of some pastor and political people, and maybe not even from your neighbor.  No, He wants us to be more like Jesus in the Bible.  The Jesus that gave us those two commandments:

Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So if you’re already following the urges within you to do unselfish acts, here’s another question for you.  There is suffering in this world.  But, as we saw above for Christians who truly follow Jesus, there won’t be suffering in the next life.  So if you’re already acting on urges that God’s place in you – why not take the next step?  Acknowledge they are from God?  Follow Jesus.  Learn more.  Learn the truth ad act on that truth. Then, you’re suffering will end with this life.  In the next life, in God’s Heaven, all your tears will be dried and you’ll suffer no more.

What else can we want?  There’s nothing better.  No One better.

John 3:16

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.”

If you’ve got that feeling to do good things, even with the potential cost to you, with no ulterior motives, with nothing but unselfish love for someone like your elderly neighbors that you’re shopping for, why not acknowledge that’s God?  Jesus told us He’d try to get our attention.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

Why not open that door and start bringing an end to the suffering for doing good?


Image by falco from Pixabay


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