Thursday, May 10, 2018. Often, we focus on one particular aspect of the gospel. People read the bible and take up one part of the message. That is, to some extent, natural. You need to go forward step by step, and you cannot grasp the whole story in one go. But it can also be misleading and even destroy faith when you do not read the full gospel, when you try to work with a part of it only and stretch the part until it does not fit any more to reality.
Birth into Hope …
Let us read some part of Peters first letter. It starts with praise for God's mercy and gifts. But in its next thought it also addresses the problems and suffering which we all face in this world. Have a look:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (from 1 Peter 1)
Let us face the facts: for all humans there is suffering to be endured. It is for all of us, those with faith and those without faith. For those with faith it serves to prove genuiness of faith. It comes to clean our faith, to let us give up what does not fit to God's character. Trials and suffering and grief must come, and it can come on many different parts of our life and activity.
My Involvement in This …
What is my personal involvement in this praise, in the hope, in the faith which is worth more than gold, and in the suffering? It is interesting to ask yourself. Do you have faith in Christ? Did he start to become the driving force in your life? Then your faith starts be become this gold, this value much more worth than gold.
But what about suffering. Sometimes we face illness, which we cannot avoid. But also, we face trouble and conflicts where we are involved in the process. It is not only coming without our action, but sometimes we are part of the actions. Are we causing the trouble? Or are we just in the middle of trouble, with the need to deal with it? If you always give in, you might cause more suffering. Sometimes it is necessary to fight.
It is not easy to find your way through life. To judge what is wrong and what is right, where to take up the fight and where to leave it, is a challenging part of our daily decisions. Where to flee, where to fight, where to ignore things, where to be very cautious. God wants to be in the middle of all this, with his wisdom, with his spirit, with his power. Lord, we need you, in all of this! Amen. (Roland Potthast) ... further texts