Are you having fun yet?
It seems our culture—plump with prosperity and inebriated with excess can justify almost anything—if everyone’s having fun. Movie stars and athletes, project managers and Sunday school teachers tend to exalt fun as the chief end of labor.
I’ve done it too. Said it flippantly, casually about things that weren’t fun at all, both as an automatic response and to get people off my back.
You made your kids work all day raking leaves?
Yes—but we had a blast doing it!
You see what I mean? Fun makes everything okay.
But Christian, what if you’re not having fun. What if your pursuit of Christ has lead you down dark and dreary tunnels of suffering and affliction, loneliness and uncertainty?
Take heart, for these light momentary trials are working to prepare far more delight than you can even imagine. And by “light” and “momentary” I mean every trial—no matter the depth or duration for your entire life. *
The notion that to be chosen of God is to be #blessed with all the fun that prosperity brings is an American ideal—not a Biblical one.
Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone, is building his church not with clay formed into bricks for temples decorated with gold—but with people transformed by the Sprit whose bodies are temples—whose faith is more valuable than gold.
“…but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” Ephesians 2:19-22
Surely the recipients of such a promise would be giants among men. Victors. Fun-havers. The God of creation dwells with them, after all. But Peter will speak of a testing by fire that comes to the believer—burning out the dross of his heart. Fire that despite its earthly origin, is sent by Heaven.
Peter, one of the twelve, did not base his life or his epistles on the pursuit of fun, but the pursuit of Christ. He did this living under the threat of Roman persecution and a promise from Christ—not of earthly restitution but an unwanted, painful death—one that would result in much glory to God.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:18
Your path leads through fire Peter, like mine. Follow me.
And he did.
The fisherman became a fisher of men.
Thrice a denier of Christ, thrice an affirmer.
The disciple (student) became an apostle (messenger).
Shimon (to hear or be heard) became Petrus (rock).
Time moved forward, and the once young impetuous boy became a wise and sober man. Persecution was on the horizon. The scent death was in the air. Jesus had told him how he would suffer and now he would tell the emerging church. This was comfort—not cruelty because proof of faith—more valuable than gold emerges in the furnace of affliction. Even affliction works for good for those who love Christ.
So, Peter addresses his first epistle to the exiles scattered throughout the Roman provinces; and to modern believers who hold heavenly passports despite earthly addresses. You are a chosen people—chosen even to be rejected. Your hope is Christ. Your inheritance is incomprehensible! Suffering will come but glory will follow. I know of what I speak…because I know Him. He is worthy and He is able!
In AD 64 Rome sent Peter into the arms of his beloved savior, Lord and friend. Christian tradition says under the Emperor Nero’s authority, Peter was crucified on a cross. Unworthy to die in the manner of his Lord Peter asked that his cross be inverted. The Bible doesn’t confirm or deny this account and Peter would want it that way.
“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off but the word of the LORD endures forever.” 1 Peter 1:24-25
The apostle quoting the prophet Isaiah with both pointing to the only living hope, the enduring one, Jesus Christ who willingly enters the furnace with us pouring out grace that sustains and restores.
Fun is a gift from God and we should receive moments of levity with joy—but it’s neither a benchmark of God’s pleasure nor a Christian guarantee. Storms are coming and may already be here so rejoice through seasons of bitter affliction knowing that proof of your faith is yielding a reward imperishable. The storm in all its nasty, gnawing fury shall soon pass and its wake will be littered only with the rubbish that was your hindrance. Follow the path to glory for the storm, the affliction, was sent to set you free.
Thomas Watson, the old Puritan, says it well:
“The vessel is first seasoned before wine is poured into it: the vessels of mercy are first seasoned with affliction, and then the wine of glory is poured in. Thus, we see afflictions are not prejudicial (harmful), but beneficial to the saints. We should not so much look at the evil of affliction, as the good; not so much at the dark side of the cloud, as the light. The worst that God does to His children is to whip them to heaven.” -from All Things for Good
*Scripture for this post was taken from 1 Peter 1:1-25
"Lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles and run with endurance the race set before you. "