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Matt 20:16

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“The last shall be first and the first shall be last”, Matt. 20:16.

By James Peterson

Mason in “V.I.P.” asks the question “who is the most important in a church?”(pg34). His conclusion; it is the suffering that are the most important. This approach to suffering is a practical application of theology. Mason’s Theology of suffering is interconnected to Christian attitudes, church community, and the idea of who is the most important. It is one that involves the attitude of the Church needing to be one of servant-ship, the sufferers being surrounded by the Christian community, and the fact that they should be put first. His theology of Suffering is that it is very much the problem of the whole community of believers, not just the one going through the suffering.

Mason tackles a difficult attitude he finds in the church, an attitude that at its worst is hypocrisy and neglect. People who are supposed to serve the forgotten and hurting but have forgotten to care. The book of Job is Mason’s main reference for this idea and turns to the story of job and his friends for an example. “In Job we see five men (counting Elihu) whose lives are inconvenienced by the suffering of Job. Four of these men are subconsciously, so deeply resentful of this problem that they cannot see that it is really theirs as much as it is Job’s. . . . Their behavior is like that of a stubborn man who insists on walking around on a broken foot” (Mason, 35). From Mason’s own penmanship as well as the book of Job do we see this idea of people who are not caring for the afflicted. The Bible has always held to the stance of caring for those in need: Matt: 25:35-40. “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. . . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these. . . you did for me ”. Help for the suffering is clearly evidenced in this passage of scripture. The biblical view is fairly clear about the attitude christians need to have; one of servant-ship, one that does not forget the already forgotten, one that cares about the hurt and suffering. The biblical view is that is our problem to care for the suffering.

Mason believes that the church community needs to have much more than an attitude adjustment; it needs to act. He uses a biblical analogy of the human body in comparison to the body of Christ. He proposes that if his foot was injured it would immediately become the most important part of his body. It would become so because the remaining parts of his body would begin to take care of that one ‘suffering’ part. Because Mason is very careful with his Theology, it fits with Paul’s idea of the body of believers making up the body of Christ in 1 corinthians 12:22-26. “If one part [of the body] suffers, every part suffers with it”. There is then basis in scripture for Mason’s idea of the ‘suffering’ needing to be surrounded by the community, which is, the body of Christ. surrounding the suffering is the action that comes from the right attitude of caring about them.

The body of Christ or rather; Christians as a whole that make up the ‘body’ of Christ are likened to a living human body to illustrate why the hurting are the most important. According to Mason, as well as the Apostle Paul it is because when one piece of the body suffers then the rest of the body suffers as well. Therefore the remaining parts of the body gather to help heal the hurting part. This would logically make that part the most important, for the time being. I believe Mike Mason is thinking that the body of Christ should react the same way; I believe Paul would agree with him according to 1 Cor. 12:22-26

.cant move forward as a whole if one is stuck

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