The worst thing in the world is …

“We have learned that suffering is not the worst thing in the world – disobedience to God is the worst” A Vietnamese pastor, imprisoned for his faith (from the Voice of the Martyrs Facebook page).

This should not be shocking to me, but it is.

I think the reason is with the word ‘disobedience’ – my idea of the word disobedience is approximately the same as ‘naughty’, a little bit over the line but not too bad. Without really stopping to consider the implications, I consider ‘disobedience’ to be a mild thing, not like idolatry or murder or blasphemy. Which, when you do stop to think about it, is really dumb.

Disobedience is not treated so lightly by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:19, Adam’s sin was disobedience to the express command of God. So too my own disobedience to anything I know is commanded by God is sin. Of course there are false ideas about what might be commanded by God – the odd feeling I get when contemplating speaking about Christ to someone is not God, it is fear. What Jesus does command is not to fear men (Matthew 10:28) and that if I deny Him, he will deny me before the Father (Matthew 10:32-33).

My theology of suffering is purely theoretical, with an underlying assumption that the worst thing in suffering would be to lose my faith in Christ. This quote has me wondering how sound my faith is if I consider disobedience to be a small thing?

I will let Jesus have the last word: “whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36.

2 thoughts on “The worst thing in the world is …

  1. Hi Mike,

    This post reminds me of a book by Jeremiah Burroughs, The Evil of Evils wherein he makes the case that suffering isn’t the worst thing in the world, but sin. It’s certainly more common in the general population to consider suffering to be the worst thing in the world, but I think it’s probably true that most Christians feel this way too. Even those of us who believe that sin is the worst with our head will reveal our true heart as soon as we sin because we are suffering. Don’t know about you, but suffering is the quickest way to bring out sin in me. Doesn’t that show that what I really believe is that suffering, or rather MY suffering, is truly the worst thing in the world? How great is God’s patience with us. How astounding really. Your blog is very nice, btw! Oh, and I think you must have found me through Fallen and Flawed. I don’t often make comments on blogs so it was easy to spot the connection. 🙂



    • Hi Susan,
      Thank you for your excellent comment – I think I need to read that book! It is all too true that any sort of suffering brings out the worst in me and I try to justify sinful behaviour and attitudes by pointing out that things are difficult, painful or stressful so it should be understandable for me to sin in such circumstances. There is lots of room for improvement here.


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