Perfected Through Suffering
Hello my friends,
I have not posted here in a long time, but this morning, for some reason, I woke up really early. So, since it was Sabbath, I figured I would make some tea, read some Scripture and meditate on the presence of God.
At the moment I am taking an exegesis class on Hebrews. The first few weeks were spend learning the background of the book, the possible audience, possible authorship, historical context, structure and the reasons it was written.
While I won’t go into all those details, all that is important for you to know right now is that he author of Hebrews is writing to Christians who are likely in Asia Minor and are suffering persecution. As a result of the persecution many have sinned, denied Christ and turned away from the faith they gladly received. The author thus writes to them to exhort them to remain faithful.
A few weeks back Dr. Cortez was lecturing on chapter 2 and we arrived to verse 10 where it says:
“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.”
Chapter two begins with an admonition to pay attention to what has been heard in order not to drift away. And then, BAM, he drops this bomb of a verse which simply says: Christ was made perfect through His suffering.
Then the professor asks us this question: “Suffering hurts and harms relationships... So how is it that Christ can be made perfect by earthly suffering?” There was a thoughtful pause before he continued, “Jesus was perfect in heaven. But he was not perfect to be our savior until he came to earth took our flesh and died in our place. In doing that he was completed, perfected, to be our savior. Not in ontological sense but in a functional sense. Christ was perfect as God. In his incarnation he was perfect as man. But by his suffering he became perfect as savior.”
The word for perfect in the original Greek, telus, literally means “maturity”. The end goal, the telus, for every Christian is to be mature in their faith. The command in Matthew 5:48 to be perfect as the Father is perfect is an exhortation to become mature in faith. Maturity has to do with being able to love as God loves; not like the baby that is selfish. Jesus, in His suffering, was perfected for the function of office as savior.
The problem with the Hebrews was that they had suffered but they had not learned from their suffering. I heard someone say once, “people are like tea, you do not find out what they are made of until you put them in hot water” (I might have just butchered the quote, but that is the main idea). Suffering reveals the maturity of our faith and it is also an opportunity to grow in our faith maturity. Every suffering should be a means by which we understand God better.
May your suffering become an opportunity for you to grow in your faith maturity, that you may be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. May you find peace in your difficult times knowing that through it all God is good. For it is written,
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. (Ps 46:1-7)