The Trial of Faith and Relationships

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“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:7

Faith and gold, what do they have in common?  Faith and gold are being compared here; they’re both being held under the test of fire to see how pure they really are.  But true faith, real faith is better than gold.  Peter says even gold can be destroyed under a strong enough fire, but not true, real faith.  One day, our faith could be so strong that when Jesus returns and sees our life and looks at who we’ve allowed ourselves to become, that it would shine in the midst of the fire with praise and honour and glory before and for Him.  But is this about me receiving praise and honour and glory or is it about Jesus perceiving Himself in me, Jesus finding Himself represented in me?

Faith isn’t just what I believe or say I believe.  Faith is what I show I believe.  Faith is wrapped up in all that I am and ought to look like all that You are, Lord.  And it’s all about bringing You praise and honour and glory.  It’s all about me loving You as You desire to be loved.  It’s all about me loving You as You loved me.  It’s all about rejoicing in You and in that love and in the greatness and wonder of this God that I can’t fully fathom but who loves me so amazingly.  That produces joy unspeakable and You fill me with this glory I don’t even deserve but that shines back upon Your own beauty and greatness.

Because of this wonder that’s been shared with me, this wonder of God working in me through the love and sacrifice and power demonstrated through Jesus, I am called to love, really love like You with a pure heart fervently.  I’m not just called to love with a pure heart fervently.  I am called and expected to and commanded to love with a pure heart fervently as You have loved me.  I shouldn’t love like me anymore because I’m not just the same person who was born of my mother.  I have been born again in Christ to be like You.  My love shouldn’t be corruptible but incorruptible like Yours, like the One who is the Word and lives and abides forever and lives and abides in me.  This Word, this Jesus, who is Truth, lives in me and cannot be contained.  Your glory must shine forth from me.

But faith comes back into play because even though I’ve been born again and have been changed and am continually being changed, there is always some of me there.  Faith is choosing to not pick up things that are evil or bad, not picking up deceit again, not acting like a hypocrite, not hanging onto envy, or talking badly about people.  Faith is choosing instead to seek Your Word and seek You until it becomes something I need and can’t live without, until it becomes the hunger of my soul because I want to spend my time drawing closer to You and experiencing more of You and understanding You more and more every day.  Faith is drawing nearer, ever nearer, so near that we can taste You and want more of You.   

True faith is evidenced by humility, by submission.  We see true faith shine through in the intended image of man and wife.   When You tell us in Genesis 2:24 “therefore a man forsakes his father and mother and clings to his wife,” You tell us that so that we will understand what our relationship as the bride of Christ ought to look like with You.  You tell us things and set examples before us as the chief cornerstone of faith that we might truly trust in the preciousness and value of Your way.  The weight that we put in Your ways is the value of our true belief in You.  I can choose to stumble at Your Word and Your ways, or I can choose to hold them as the most precious treasures of life.

I am the bride of Christ.  I have been chosen.  I’m part of the royal priesthood.  I’ve been made holy.  I’ve been taken out of darkness and placed into marvellous light with You and in You.  All of this is underserved.  It’s like this story that You told of Israel being like a baby born and left to die.  But You see her and take her in.  No one else wanted her, she had no value to them.  Yet You valued her.  You took her in and clothed her and raised her and made her beautiful.  And then when she came of age, You made her Your bride.  You owed her nothing, yet You gave her everthing.  All that she became was because of You.  Even her life itself was due to Your care and love.  This is the story of not only Israel’s redemption.  This is the story of each of our redemption, whether we’re male or female.  This is what You have done for us.  Faith is walking and living in that knowledge and thankfulness.  Faith is walking in that love.  Faith is sharing that same love with others.

Now, our tendency is to be prideful with this new position we have been given, with all these blessings and privileges we have received beyond measure.  But Peter tells us our life needs to mirror the One who took us in so that others will see.  We are royalty who are called to submit ourselves to others.  We’re to put ourselves under others.  We’re to esteem them above ourselves. Why?  Isn’t that what You did?  I’m to obey.  I’m to honor.  Because God, You value them too.  How else will they know?  This is the will of God that these people will see the love and value of God for them through us.  I need to learn to honour all men, to love the brotherhood, to fear God, and to honour my leaders.

That rescued baby who was laying their still in its blood from birth in that story, well, it didn’t remain faithful.  The One who took it in and cared for it with such great love and sacrifice endured grief over it’s straying and suffered from it’s lack of love returned.  And, You God, were still patient, and accepted the suffering and disappointment, yet continued loving and valuing that baby grown into a woman.  Yes, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that [we] should follow His steps.”  1 Peter 2:21

Then Peter shares with us the extent that Christ went through for us, each of us, as we too were bloody messes without belonging.  He sets the example of Christ before us.  And Chapter 3 he exhorts both men and women to do likewise.  Like Christ, we are to subject ourselves, that the other might see the love of Christ displayed through us for them.  The hidden man of the heart will come out in the evidence of our submission.  Oh wait, but it doesn’t say submission for husbands, only wives.  Really?  In my Book, likewise means likewise, and likewise is referring to being like Christ who submitted Himself to the obedience of God and mere men, and submitted Himself to the cross for our benefit and for our uplifting.  He made Himself less so that we could be made everything in Him.  Men and women aren’t being called to be like each other.  We are both being called, in faith and by faith, to be like Christ, like You Lord.

Therefore, I’m thinking that the trial, the test of our faith, the fire I must pass through has to do with me learning to submit.  And it’s going to feel like I’m going through a fire because it’s going to take some really hard situations before I learn.  It’s going to take some wrong attitudes in others, false accusations, misunderstanding, quirks, and irritations.  It’s going to be a path filled with frustrations and road blocks.  And I can’t pass through these fires on my own.  I have to learn to leave my old ways of thinking behind and cling to the ways of Jesus.  I have to cling to You with all my life.  But it’s not just about me, this woman, leaving my way of thinking behind and the ways I’ve trusted, to cling to You.  It’s about men and women adopting this new way of life and thinking.  We must both pass through this fire. We must both learn to esteem others as more valuable than ourselves, or we’re not clinging to You, Jesus, because that’s what You did for us and we are called to do and be likewise as You.

Simply put, faith is looking at You and seeing You and knowing You and being and doing and letting You do through and in us likewise as You.  If I don’t look like You and act like You, then I’m not living in faith.  If I’m not facing the hard stuff and making it through as an overcomer, I’m not walking in faith.  If I’m a wife and can’t esteem my husband above myself, I’m not doing likewise.  If I’m a husband and can’t esteem my wife above myself, I’m not doing likewise.  If I’m a kid and can’t esteem my parents above myself, I’m not doing likewise.  If I’m a parent and can’t esteem my kids above myself, I’m not doing likewise.  If I’m John Smith and can’t esteem some stranger as more valuable than myself, I’m not doing likewise.  If I’m being persecuted and can’t esteem my enemy as more valuable than myself, I’m not doing likewise.  Do I really get the picture?

How much do I really value the person next to me?  Do I value them to the extent that You, Jesus, valued me?  Do I value them to the extent that You value me even now, every day, whether it’s my good day or my bad day, whether I’m good or I’m bad, whether I’m irritating or not?  This is it, the trial of faith, the fire we must all continually pass through to be made pure and to bring glory and honour and praise to You, Lord.  This is the fire and it’s called relationship.  How am I passing the test, Lord?  Seems to me that I’m not quite there yet.  But I am so grateful that You have called me to be and equip me to be an overcomer.  So let me walk by faith, likewise as You, and learn to value people above my own self, above my own needs and desires.  Teach me to care for others in such a way that my own life wouldn’t matter as much as theirs.  Teach me to treat them like You treat me.  Teach me to submit like You submitted.  After all, if the God of the universe can mutually submit amongst Himself- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one to another, for the sake and beauty of unity, and if God can come to earth and submit to a mother and father and authorities whom He created, well, who am I to not submit?  This fire is painful, Lord, but I’m beginning to understand it’s preciousness, because it’s the only place I’ll truly find You and what it really means to walk by faith and in faith.

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