Vol.XIII No.X Pg.3
December 1976

Painless Religion

Dan S. Shipley

The unpleasant hurting sensation sometimes experienced in the physical body can have beneficial effects. Without the symptoms of chest or stomach pains, for instance, one may be unaware of serious ailments needing immediate attention. The prospects of a comfortable coronary or a painless appendicitis may sound appealing, but the end thereof could well be death. Physical hurting is not only an informer, it is also a reminder and protector. Even the sore toe can convey an attention getting message by hurt saying, Hey! Remember to take care of me!. The point is, hurt is a necessary and often helpful part of our physical existence.

Furthermore, Im not so sure that hurt doesnt occupy a somewhat similar role in the spiritual realm as well. Take the hurt of Godly sorrow, for instance. Without it repentance is impossible for godly sorrow worketh repentance... (2 Cor. 7:10). You can see it in the repentance of the Pentecostians who were pricked in their heart (Acts 2:37). I think we see it in Peter who, in realizing his sin against Jesus, went out, and wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75). Who are the blessed mourners of Matt. 5:4 if not those who are hurt by sin? Such hurt is actually an essential part of gaining spiritual health. But, as with the physical body, there are different kinds of hurting.

Another sort is that which comes with the sting of rebuke. Whether administered publicly or privately, there are times when the rod of verbal chastisement is necessary. Paul used it with Peter and threatened more of it with the Corinthians (Gal. 2:11; 1 Cor. 4:21). Timothy is told to use it (1Tim. 4:2). Actually, it involves a double hurt in that it affects the rebuker as well. Paul was sorry for having to make the Corinthians sorry (1 Cor. 7:8), though it later brought joy. No doubt, their putting away the fornicator from among them was a painful experience too, but the church could not be healthy without it.

Since hurt, therefore, is so vitally related to spiritual health, why do so many seem so set on taking all the hurt out of religion? Why the demand for an ouchless religion? Many appear obsessed with the fear that someone may get their feelings hurt! Others want to spare themselves the pain and unpleasantness of saying what needs to be said to lost souls (preachers and elders included). Could it be that we have become more concerned about removing the hurt than about removing the sin? That is something like a doctor administering a strong pain-killer for severe stomach pains without treating what caused the pains. Obviously, he has not removed the problem; only the patients awareness of it. Neither do we remove the problem by removing the pain. True, we have manufactured lots of tranquilizers in our quest for a painless religion. Many, though dying in sin, have been made to feel good under the sedation of false teaching, good intentions and excuses. The pain may be gone, but not the problem.

Speaking the truth in love is good medicine — good for those who speak it and hear it — and hurt!