Today begins a new guest series by reader and commenter Michael Kozaki. It will take place on a semi-regular basis on Tuesdays, and will provide a place for him to state and argue for a counter-cultural Truth. The first in his series covers a subject I’ve addressed recently:
Life Is Suffering
…we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles…
I was able to vote before I really understood that life is suffering. What can I say? I was the product of my culture.
Few Christians embrace suffering nowadays. A thumbs-up, therapeutic Jesus is in vogue. No historic follower of Jesus would have recognized this guy. For good reason. The “therapeutic” or “feminized” Jesus is not the Jesus of the Scriptures nor of the Church. He’s a pagan god, forged in man’s image.
Donal is currently writing about suffering. I don’t intend to steal his thunder by going into detail. But there is simply no other way to start a series on countercultural living than to acknowledge that the desperate, futile, sniveling attempt to avoid suffering is the root of nearly every problem with the modern lifestyle.
This quest to sidestep suffering is nonstop. It has pulled Jesus off the crucifix. It sidesteps fasting. It mocks the confession of sins (yet spends thousands on shrinks and medication). It winks at abortion. It celebrates birth control (while paying thousands for fertility treatments and importing cheap labor). It ignores gluttony (and spends lavishly on diets). It consents to divorce. If you think about it, every one of these cultural trends have a singular reason: to avoid suffering. At any price. And it never works. We merely trade pain today for pain tomorrow.
My favorite example: Christians traditionally displayed their God in all His crucified agony and glory, front and center, in their churches. Moderns hate the real Jesus. Why? They hate suffering. They are ashamed and repulsed by Jesus’ supreme act of passionate love.
If you hide from suffering you can never be truly happy. Why? Because love – and salvation – demands suffering. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. Our whole earthly life is a story of suffering that ends in the ultimate earthly catastrophe: physical death. We can either accept this and embrace our cross, or give God the finger and refuse to become who we were born to be.
Avoidance of suffering is why so many people’s lives and relationships degrade over time. But in the end (if not long before the end) we will suffer no matter how hard we try to hide. So why not embrace suffering? And live a life worthy of it?