It’s the real thing! 2020 proves it!
Hovering over Peter’s opening words to the “elect exiles of the Dispersion.” While they many not have been “sheltered in place,” they had been “scattered to places.” Like us, their “normal” way of gathering together had been disrupted. Life had been turned upside down for them as well. And it wasn’t just one thing, or one event, they were “grieved by various trials” — it just kept coming, one thing after another!
But they were those who were keepin’ on keepin’ on. And, for those who cared to take notice — and for the God whose eyes “run to and fro throughout the whole earth” (2Chron. 16:9) — it proved something. It proved they had a genuine faith.
Peter wastes no time in his letter to these suffering saints, reminding these discombobulated disciples of their past, that they had been born again to a living hope by the power of Christ’s resurrection (1Pet. 1:3). He then turns their eyes to things above and to their future, that they had an eternal, unfading inheritance reserved for them in heaven (1:4). And so, he assures them during these present various trials that they are being “guarded through faith” by the supernatural dynamic of God’s power through God’s Spirit (1:5).
What’s more, he says, the fact that they were still walking in belief, that they were still faithful followers, was evidence that they possessed a genuine faith.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith — more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire — may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
(1Peter 1:6-7 ESV)
If, after all 2020 has thrown at us, we’re still believing, still pursuing, still keeping our eye to the sky, then, whatever else it may accomplish, it proves one thing — that our faith is genuine. It’s being tested and it’s proving to be the real meal deal.
I’m not saying it’s proving how tough we are in mustering up a positive attitude in the midst of bad situations. Not that it’s proving our fortitude in our ability to make lemonade out of a mountain of lemons. Rather, that it’s proving our faith is authentic, God-graced faith. The indisputable evidence that the work He has begun in us is a real work, the work He has promised to complete in us (Php. 1:6).
All kinds of reasons to check out. Who would blame anybody for having doubts? Who’s gonna judge those are weary and have decided to remove themselves from the game in some form or manner?
But why haven’t we? Why do we keep talking about the “opportunity” presented by this season — whether that’s an opportunity to draw near as children or to go out as salt and light? Why, though our numbers are down in our buildings Sunday after Sunday, are we jazzed because we see how God is building us up? It’s faith. Not blind faith. Not I-wish-I-may-I-wish-I-might faith. Not pie-in-the-sky-in-the-sweet-by-and-by faith. But genuine faith. The sort of faith that comes from being born again, possessing an eternal inheritance, and knowing the daily dynamic of the sustaining power of God.
And not so we can take any credit or boast in ourselves. But that it “may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
No simple answers to the “why” of this season. But here’s one answer: It proves that our spiritual DNA really was rewired when we first believed. The battle scars testify to God’s power to keep His promise to save to the uttermost. And, it demonstrates, if to no one else, to ourselves and to our God, that this is the real thing, that this is a genuine faith.
Faith gifted by His grace. Faith tested for His glory.