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They're only half right: Going to church doesn't make you a Christian

They're Only Half Right

Chick Yuill looks at what some people think Christians believe

It’s about being part of something

LET me admit it straightaway – this is a difficult subject and I don’t have any clever or slick answers. Human suffering is never easy to watch, whether it’s someone close to us or the countless people afflicted by famine or war who appear on television news bulletins. And it’s all the more difficult to understand for people who believe in a good and loving God.

Much of the suffering we see can be put down to the bad things that human beings do to each other, though that definitely doesn’t explain it all. But I will share with you what I’ve learnt over the years from my own experience and from people who are much wiser than me.

The hard fact is that suffering is an inescapable part of life in this world. Even if we did have an answer to the question ‘why?’, it wouldn’t actually solve the problem. I’ve learnt that it is far better to ask a different question about suffering: what can we do about it?

And here’s the interesting thing. When we start to do something to alleviate the suffering of others, we become more aware of the presence and help of God. We haven’t solved the mystery, but we can begin to make a difference. Somehow it feels as if we’ve tuned into what God is like and what he’s doing in the world.

That’s why the crucifixion of Jesus is so important to Christians. Why don’t we just concentrate on his teaching? Why do we focus so much on his death? It’s because the cross is where the suffering of the world and the love of God meet.

When people ask why God hasn’t done something about suffering, the Christian answer is that he has. In the crucifixion of Jesus, God has not only entered into human suffering, but he has transformed it, turned it into something beautiful and made it the deepest expression of his love.

That is not an easy answer. But for millions of people across 20 centuries it has been the one that has enabled them to face suffering and turn it to good.

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