1 Peter 1: 10-12
The apostle Peter in this first chapter of his letter seems to be building a rational that helps us cope with suffering and struggling. In writing to early Christians and us, he does not ask us to deny hard times. He does not put suffering in the framework of learning a lesson the hard way. Nor are the early Christians being punished for misbehavior. He is writing to Christians who are spread out over the Roman Empire and who are facing isolation and persecution. As Americans we might not say we are being persecuted like then when Christians went to the Coliseum to fight beasts because of their faith or were burned as torches. We do not face persecution like that. We face a much subtler challenge as Christianity has been integrated with politics, finances, health, and education. Faith has become measured by our social stances and not by our relationship to Christ.
Peter tells his people that they are not “unseen,” helpless victims of fate or science or evolution. He calls them chosen and elect. There is a God who has his hand on them and God’s Spirit is guiding them and helping them to stand firm in faith. Trials and struggles are not punishments and tests to see if we are really believers, but are a refining process common to life. God does not play with us. Gold is refined and becomes more pure in the fire and faith is refined in trials. As we have lived through quarantines these last two years, we have had to grow as a church that challenges pastors and councils to zoom, stream, and face book. We have been challenged to get those phone chains working to keep shut-ins loved and we keep in touch with relatives and friends electronically. Trials challenge and refine us, perfect us and can bring out our better self.
The truth is that we have an eternal inheritance that is far more valuable than gold and that inheritance is being kept secure for us. Our worldly wealth changes in value constantly but not our eternal wealth and we need to focus on that. But the truth is also that these sufferings were predicted through the prophets. Struggling is not unique to this generation or this decade. We can look back to the Israelites in Egypt, the Babylonian and Assyrian captivity, to the plague and wars and we see faith being tested. Great hymns and art came out of those times. We are broken people in a broken world and need a savior who is the author of “grace and peace in abundance.”
So who would you like to be an example for this year? Whose life would you like to impact? We do not know who is watching but for sure we are watched. For sure we have come to faith and grown because of someone else investing in us. Name two or three people that you will at least pray for this year and ask God that you can be a godly influence in their lives. Blessings.