The Abundant Life

Like every consumer product, the new evangelical theology is always advertising itself – and advertising is always about how great it is to be experience the product that is being advertised.  No advertiser ever lets on that there’s deep suffering in the world and that it might be your job to participate in it.  And so the promises of Christ, which are for our comfort and encouragement, become advertising slogans that we have to live up in order to keep our image as Christians – as if to say, “Look at me. I’m living the victorious Christian life, as advertised!”  Our Lord promises abundant life (John 10:10), so if your life doesn’t look very abundant these days, you have to wonder what’s wrong with you.

– Phillip Cary

as quoted by Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 88-89

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Have We Adopted a Western Form of Hinduism?

Christians believe that Jesus severed the link between suffering and deserving once for all on Calvary.  God put the ledgers away and settled the accounts.  But when you and I insist that all-to-comfortable paradigm of cosmic score keeping, we stoop talking about Christianity and in fact adopt a Westernized form of Hinduism.  We are talking about karma.  If you are a bad person and things are going well for you, it is only a matter a time before karma catches up with you and “you get yours.”  If you are a good person, the inverse is true: just be patient and your good deeds will come back to you.  This is a simplification of the complex Hindu understanding of history as determined by the past lives of others: that we are all stuck in an eternal cycle of suffering perpetuated by reincarnation.

– Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 85

Drawn to Many Things, To These We Are Not

Many and various are the things to which a man may feel himself drawn, but one thing there is to which no man ever felt himself drawn in any way, that is, to suffering and humiliation.  This we men think we ought to shun as far as possible, and in any case that we must be compelled to it.

– Soren Kierkegaard

as quoted by Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 84

God Is Not Interested In What You Think You Should Be or Feel

God is not interested in what you think you should be or feel.  He is not interested in the narrative you construct for yourself, or that others construct for you.  He may even use suffering to deconstruct the narrative.  Rather, He is interested in you, the you who suffers, the you who inflicts suffering on others,the you who inflicts suffering on others, the you who hides, the you who has bad days (and good ones).  And He meets you where you are.  Jesus is not the man at the top of the stairs; He is the man at the bottom, the friend of sinners, the savior of those in need of one.  Which is all of us, all of the time, praise to be God!

– Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 78

Christianity Is In No Way a Stoic Faith

The good news here is that Christianity is in no way a stoic faith.  It fundamentally rejects the “stiff upper lip” school of thought.  Unfortunately, some Christians are guilty of throwing out an equivalent sentiment when they play the “God is sovereign” card as a way to trump everything evil that comes your way.

– Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 75

Shalom Is the Way Things Ought to Be

In the Bible, shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight – a rich state of affairs in which natural needs are satisfied and natural gifts fruitfully employed, a state of affairs that inspires joyful wonder as its Creator and Savior opens doors and welcomes the creatures in whom he delights.  Shalom, in other words, is the way things ought to be.

– Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

as quoted by Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 71-72

The Collective Need to Repent and Confess

To be clear, I absolutely believe in our collective need to repent and confess our sins to one another (James 5:16).  I am only cautioning against doing so outside the context of the countervailing, scandalous nature of God’s unconditional love.  It is, after all, “God’s kindness [that] leads you toward repentance” (Romans 2:4), repentance being nearly synonymous with honesty.  The confidence that “there is no no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) is the engine that fuels honesty with one another, about both our ongoing sin and our ongoing suffering.  Fortunately, this is the good news that lies at the heart of the gospel.  But I disagree.

– Tchividjian, Tullian; Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free; David C Cook Publishers, Copyright 2013, Kindle Edition, page 71