Last week I spoke of the hope we should all have in Christ because of His redemptive work and how that hope is developed through times of tribulations. Throughout time, God has been involved in the transformation of His people. Consider these words that speak of Israel’s wanderings in the desert for forty years, “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not” (Deuteronomy 8:2). This past week, I was reading through the gospel of Mark and came across the story of Jesus and the rich young ruler. The young ruler asks, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17). Confident in his obedience to the law of Moses, he is challenged by Jesus, “Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor…take up the cross, and follow Me” (Mark 10:21). It is not that wealth was wrong; but rather, it was hindering him from being fully committed. The young man left sorrowful.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
1st Peter 1:3
What God has blessed us with through Christ is beyond words at times. Jesus Christ, our hope, has provided “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1st Peter 1:4) for us! This joy of what we have in Christ, although real, does not and should not blind us with the fact that “now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials” (1st Peter 1:6). Much like the early church, we find ourselves challenged because of our convictions about Christ and His teachings. More and more in our world today, believing Christ to be the only way, truth and life (John 14:6) is nothing short of ignorance and bigotry. Words like “intolerant” echo through the airwaves of social media. What is going on?
…you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith…may be found to praise, honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ…
1st Peter 1:7
It will only be after the “revelation of Jesus Christ” (i.e. judgment) that tribulations, trials and adversities come to an end. Until then, the reality is, we live in a sinful world of which we were at one time, very much a part of (Titus 3:3). The Lord is patient “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2nd Peter 3:9). So, we faithfully wait for His return. Until then, we will encounter “various trials” (1st Peter 1:7; James 1:2), which one could call the proving ground of our faith. Opportunities for us to grow in our hope in Him, as we learned from Romans 5:1-5. In a lost and dying world, there is truly only one hope, his name is Jesus!
As the tone towards Christianity changes and we find ourselves awkwardly faced with a culture that opposes us, what will we do? Know this, God is involved, and He is working in your life. He is using the world to refine us, proving our faith. So, let us rejoice in Christ and sing, “Stand up, stand for Jesus ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high His royal banner. It must not suffer loss.” God, make me into the person You would have me to be, Amen.