As Christians, our theology shapes us. It comes forth in our relationships, conversations, and the way we respond to our circumstances. If our theology doesn't find it's foundation in Scripture, we can do serious damage to those around us.
Bad theology hurts people.
Watch Your Word-Faith
"God is the Healer of all our sickness. You just need more faith."
They mean well, they really do. But those whose ears have been tickled by false gospels like the prosperity gospel and the word-faith movement, don't see the repercussions of their own words. They use God's Word out of context and make claims to prosperity that aren't there, leaving out the many passages which prove the Christian life is not a cake-walk.
Many Christians are infertile, have cancer, have miscarried or delivered lifeless babies, are tortured for their alliance to Jesus, and on top of these heart wrenching trials, there are some whose theology would deem the suffering of these believers a result of their faithlessness. This terribly unbiblical theology places the blame on the Christian for any painful thing that enters their life; it hardens the lost to God, the Gospel, and the Church.
Whenever we cease to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, people are crushed under the weight of a yoke not meant to be placed on their back.
Salvation and Suffering
Throughout the New Testament, we find the obvious truth that we will face suffering. It's displayed clearly in numerous passages as well as in the imprisonments, beatings, and eventually the deaths of the apostles.
Jesus promised salvation and suffering for his sake.
"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake..." (Philippians 2:29 ESV, emphasis added)
His warnings are easily found within the gospels as well.
"Then Jesus told his disciples,'If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.'" (Matthew 16:24-25 ESV)
The life of a Christian is marked by suffering but because of Jesus, it is also marked by so much joy that we can stand with Paul and, "count it all as loss!"
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..." (Romans 3:8-10 ESV)
We lose much, but we gain Christ.
For the Christian, suffering is not punishment for lack of faith, but rather, it is a gift that we would taste the suffering of Jesus. What a blessing to have our faith strengthened and proved genuine. Salvation and suffering go hand in hand. We were never promised 100% healthy, prosperous lives this side of Heaven.
More of Jesus
When trials come, which they will, we are not to blame. We serve a God who is sovereign over the pain. He turns all for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Even for the one whose faith is weak. Suffering doesn't enter our lives because we need more faith. God allows suffering to touch us so that he can give us more of himself.
We need more of Jesus.
Jesus, the Lamb who was slain for us. The One who suffered the most so that all of our suffering could have meaning. The One who doesn't waste an ounce of our pain and turns all for good.
Bad theology hurts people.
Don't give me a God whose power depends on the faith of his children...give me the omnipotent God of the Bible who loves his children enough that he orchestrates all things for their good--even suffering. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Hope does not put us to shame because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:3-5).