By CRAIG HARRIS
1 Peter 1: 3 - 9 (NIV): 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--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 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 your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
We've been born again. Peter says God has given us a living, dynamic hope that carries us each and every day. It's a hope that we will be resurrected, just like Jesus was. It is a hope that this life is not all there is. We have glimpsed paradise, but we know we are not there yet. Because of God's mercy and Jesus' sacrifice, we will reach paradise again. And it is kept safe by God's power. He's not going to lose us or forget about us.
For now, though, we have to suffer sometimes. Peter says these trials make our faith stronger. Faith isn't faith until we use it. If we never needed faith, how would we know it was real? And if we never used our faith, it would never get stronger so we could handle more and more. Faith is like a muscle; we have to use to make it stronger. And a strong faith brings glory to God.
Peter undoubtedly remembered Jesus' words, that we are blessed if we believe in Jesus, even though we don't see him. That's what faith is. Peter got to see Jesus, but he realized we didn't. He said we are blessed if we believe based on the apostle's testimony and our own faith. And one day we will receive the goal of that faith, salvation.
Autographed copies of Craig's fiction novel “The Dead Peasants File” are for sale at Blaser's Books in downtown Palestine. Harris is the pastor at Brushy Creek and Mt. Vernon United Methodist churches.