Barth on Christian suffering

Came across this quote in my exam prep. Food for thought –

“If, then, a man is not oppressed by his environment, if he has nothing serious to fear or to suffer at its hands, he has reason carefully to ask at least whether and how far he is genuinely a Christian at all and not fundamentally self-deceived in this respect.” – Karl Barth


My Story

The most important thing I could tell you about who I am is that I am a Christian. And this is why.

I grew up in a Christian family. My immediate family are Christian as well as most of my extended family. My grandparents plus some of my aunties and uncles are ministers for the Salvation Army. I grew up at church and I was taught about Jesus and his death on the cross for me and I was involved in lots of different groups in church from a young age.
When I was about 18 I meet someone I liked and even though I knew there were many reasons not too, we started dating. This person wasn’t a Christian and was someone who I knew a Christian girl shouldn’t date but I decided that I didn’t care. And the more we saw of each other the more I became a person who lived only for what felt good at that moment. I made a very clear and very conscience choice to turn my back on God and everything I knew about him. I remember my sister saying to me that God had made me to live a different life that the one I was living and my reply was something along the lines of ‘this is what I’m doing and God will have to deal with it’. So I lived my life just how the world told me to – doing what I wanted, when I wanted, focused only on what felt good for ME. I completely ignored God even though I knew that he had given his son’s life for me. In return I lived a very selfish and godless life. Nothing in my life pleased God. But then again – I didn’t care.
This was my life for almost 5 years. And then my relationship ended and all of a sudden I was alone. Even though I moved back home with my family I felt completely alone all the time. And while I knew that my family loved me, I felt like they were looking at me thinking ‘I told you so’. A few weeks after I had moved home, I went to church with them one morning and while I was there I realised that God would never say I told you so. He was the only one I could depend on no matter what had happened and when my life had fallen apart, he was the only thing that didn’t change and would never change. But I was scared about saying sorry to God. I knew that there would be people who couldn’t forgive some of the things I had done and I thought that meant that God couldn’t forgive me either. But even though I had rejected him, when I came to him and said I was sorry and asked his forgiveness he didn’t reject me. No matter what my sin was, and no matter what the world thought about my sin, Jesus had taken the punishment for me by dying on a cross. Thee was nothing I could have done that it didn’t cover. That knowledge continues to comfort me today.
So I started living my life for God instead of for myself. Instead of me being the centre, God is now the centre. Now when I look back on my time apart from God I realise I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t the ‘good person’ I thought I was and I was angry all the time. I have a friend that I have known for about 9 years and after I became a Christian she told me that I had changed so much that she felt like she had just met me. It was nice to know that people could notice the difference Jesus made in my life.
Knowing God and understanding my salvation has made a huge impact on my purpose in life. My focus is no longer on pleasing myself, instead its on pleasing God and making sure others know God too. This lead to me changing jobs so I would be available to lead youth group and various bible studies at church and then the bigger decision to quit my job and study Theology full time.
I’m not claiming that I’m perfect or that my life is perfect, or even easy and I know that this life will never be those things. What I also know is that even though I continue to do the wrong thing, through his son Jesus, God has given me more than I would ever deserve. He has given me his unconditional love and forgiveness and has promised me eternal perfection with him in heaven.
So why is being a Christian the most important thing I could tell you about myself?? It’s because Jesus told his disciples ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me’. Through Jesus I have a personal relationship with the God who created the world, and one day i’ll walk side by side with him. And what could possibly be more important that that??