… though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds
of trials. 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.1 Peter 1:6 & 7
In the West, on the whole, our faith has not been tested by fire. Christians and Churches are not scattered in fear of their lives. “Suffering grief of all kinds” has not been the norm. With the continuous decline of Christianity from a mainstream movement to a peripheral group, maybe that time is not that far away. Social and moral values in our cultures are diverging from Biblical values everyday. Understandably, from within the church there are many cries of alarm. People even try to hijack political parties and candidates. But is this the answer?
Could there be a silver lining to this dark cloud? Is it possible that the church, scattered and strangers in the world (1Peter 1:1) could be a far more effective witness for Christ as it was in the early church. Could it be that a Church unencumbered by 1700 years of peripherals (i.e from the time of the Edict of Milan under Constantine) such as buildings, constitutions, robes, habits, customs and the rest, could be far more effective and genuine than it is today? Imagine, the only thing to grab hold on were the promises of God – nothing else. Imagine – your only protection was our invisible God ( 1peter 1:8)! Imagine, that our joy at being a child of God’s was so infectious it transformed a sceptical world.
It seems to me, the people of God are most effective when under the pressure of refining fire; whether Daniel in Babylon, Christians in the Roman world or Christians suffering persecution today. In the West we are often called hypocrites. I am sure this charge was never made against those who were, and are, prepared to die for their faith.