Privileged pain might mean that no matter how well-off one is, how wealthy or comfortable or perfect the family – pain plays no favorites. Or, Privileged Pain might explain the ultimate, beautiful outcome that suffering has the potential to produce.
Just mulling these thoughts over, I considered the polishing of a pearl, the rain before a rainbow, the pressing of a grape and the squeezing of citrus. Most of those are not new metaphors but true nonetheless and sometimes we forget the most common affirmations of difficult truths.
I think one thing that suffering accomplishes is to kill any remnants of dead religion that sometimes cling to Christ followers. I heard of a book that I’m dying to read, Jesus Hates Dead Religion, by Eric Metaxas. This book follows on the heals of his New York Times bestseller, Bonhoeffer. Both books have been added to my Kindle’s to-do list.
No one can testify to the privilege of pain as can a martyr. Bonhoeffer died for his faith – he was certain that the weight of glory prepared for him was greater than any momentary suffering. I want to endure like that!
As to the other book, James says that faith without works is dead. If Jesus truly hates dead religion, then the effectual proof of my faith must be a consistent growth in Christ-likeness. And if pain slays nothing else, it will slay dead religion. It will destroy the trappings of false charity, disguised pride and shallow empathy.
Faith and religion are not the same thing. Sometimes they are bitter enemies. Think of Jesus, and then think of the Pharisees. Think of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and then the German religious establishment enslaved to Hitler and the Führer principle. Think of William Wilberforce, and then his complacent countrymen, piously permitting the traffic of people whose skin was darker than their own. Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce stood against the evil of their times, evil so easily peddled as religious. Will we do the same?
This is a Bonhoeffer moment, as Eric Metaxas says. Modern culture offers us comfort, distraction, even piety to keep us from a living faith in the God of the universe. But Metaxas’s rousing message calls readers to follow in the steps of men like Wilberforce and Bonhoeffer, godly men who lived the gospel instead of following the path of dead religion to the approval of their respective societies.
Real prayer is only possible with living faith. And living faith is the only kind that can be used by God for transformative change in our world. But dead religion is a deceptive substitute. Jesus came to deliver people from dead religion. Let’s not be its defenders. – Amazon book description of Jesus Hates Dead Religion
Whether or not the day ever comes that I will be asked to suffer the ultimate pain for Jesus, I want to have such a living, vital, ready-to-die faith, that I can stand next to Bonhoeffer and James in heaven.