Testing the Gold
Listen to this daily worship
1 Peter 1: 3-9 (NRSVA)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Your faith is more precious than gold! Extraordinary, but true – yet Peter’s point is first that your faith is not something which can be destroyed as even gold can, but indestructible, because it is all part of your birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Christ. Indestructible? Focus on your faith, and it becomes fragile – focus instead on Christ, and your faith shines in the light of his risen life, which nothing can extinguish.
However, Peter’s second point is that gold is tested by fire, and that your faith may be also (like Job 23: 10). There is the raging fire of physical persecution, and the acid fire of disbelief and doubt. Not so much intellectual questions – those should simply sharpen the believer (and also keep us humble) – but moral and practical questions, as we discover that faith is difficult and costly. We don’t know all the answers to the questions (Jesus Christ is not yet revealed, verse 7) but we are promised a share in Christ’s resurrection joy. The best is still to come – for us and for the world – there is indeed a golden future.
Lord, you have promised us a glorious future, not to pluck us out of the mud in which we swirl around while we are panned, one way or another, but to remind us that you are there with us, since you, Lord Jesus, are the same yesterday, today and for ever, wearing for ever our muddy clothes, and changing us from one degree of muddy glory to another.
To those whose faith is being tested by sword and by circumstance, grant the assurance of your presence, the power of your Spirit, and the joy of promise made real in persecution, for your name’s sake, Amen.