This finishes the mini-series on Trials I began in response to some questions I received.
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, 'THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.' John 15:18-25
I realize that you and I might dispute the presence of this hatred in our present situations, but maybe we've only been temporarily shielded from the intensity experienced by those who heard Peter's original words. Remember, Peter did state,
even though now FOR A LITTLE WHILE, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials 1 Peter 1:6
Are we not aware that a sense of comfort and security in the world around us takes the edge off the expression of animosity? Even Jesus experienced times of acceptance, but he wasn't fooled by it. Oh, we may try to fool ourselves, but we know. And we've seen enough in the past couple years to be convinced that it doesn't take much for all hell to break loose. Maybe the hate-gun just hasn't been pointed our way lately.
WITHOUT A CAUSE. And here we are trying to figure out why we sometimes get slammed from out of the blue. But there is no reason behind this kind of trial ... no wonder we get confused when we try to force an understandable cause for the causeless hatred that comes our way.
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. John 15:18
It might not seem like much of a consolation, except for the testimony it demands about the life that is being hated within you. The fact that it makes absolutely no sense whatever teaches our hearts what a multitude of reasons only confuses.
But we've been guilted about this Scriptural testing of our faith, haven't we? Maybe the memory of judgment drowns out the voice of God's Spirit in our hearts. Perhaps the sound of Biblical words such as...
Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting! Daniel 5:27
...covers over the overwhelming demand of the testing mentioned by Peter (and others). What if the testing of our faith has nothing to do with revealing OUR righteousness but HIS? What if it really does result in "praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ"? What if our faith really is "more precious than gold"? You see, if we were really connecting with Peter's train of thought regarding this testing we would realize there was no good vs. bad outcome ... only a validation of God's life within!
...and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:8
Though we may have heard this quoted in the context of possibly NOT obtaining salvation it demands just the opposite! "And though you have not seen Him, you love Him". Notice, no ifs, ands, or buts, just a simple revealing that YOU LOVE HIM. Also, "and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him". Once again, the trials Peter speaks of show forth that Christ IS BELIEVED even though not seen with the eyes.
And not only this, he said, "you greatly rejoice with joy INEXPRESSIBLE and full of glory". You think there might be a distinction between expressible and inexpressible? If so, then is it possible that the rejoicing Peter mentioned is neither increased during times of the expressible nor diminished by the lack of any outward manifestation? Something to consider, you think?
Are we then supposed to only think about heaven all day long so that we never rely on anything?
When I was a child I dreaded going to the dentist. Ironically, the worst part for me was the measure taken to lessen the pain. I'm not sure if he used thick syringes or if it was his way of sticking them in, but I since learned that some dentists can poke you without trauma and injury. Anyhow, he knew it hurt pretty bad because each time he tried to prep me by saying, "Now, I want you to think about something nice, like a vacation." After a while I realized that such mental gymnastics would only destroy my delightful memories of vacations-past and pleasurable expectations of vacations-future!
I suspect that the development of our heavenly concept had far less to do with Christ than most care to admit. Instead, I think we only altered our preexisting concepts of the everlasting future vacation in God-land so that Jesus would get the most important position. I'm not suggesting there's nothing to look forward to because the one who is even now our life will continue to be so long after these bodies finally give out. I don't challenge the reality I challenge the desperation upon which our religious heaven is built. In turn, I have to question the very nature of those thoughts we think we're supposed to be thinking about in order to be thinking about heaven. After all, your question reveals an understandable difficulty that one must constantly think about the better heavenly life in order to displace reliance upon everything else.
Yes, there is a Bible verse that says...
Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth Colossians 3:2
...but the distinction between this and the religious substitute is night and day. For the one seeks to escape reality by struggling to prefer a superior future reality, while the other knows there is only one true ever-present reality behind the facade of this world. The one is a foreign concept we desperately hope to make real, the other is the reality of our very beings because we are already found in Christ. The one views reliance upon God alone as the better choice to be made, but the truth realized in Christ is that nothing else is reliable.
Is the only way we grow through constant trial? Should we turn into a scared wreck if you think God will take your job from you? Do you ever worry over these things? Taking your family away or some weird thing?
We grow through EVERYTHING simply because we have been planted in the living one. The truth is that we'll easily turn into a scared wreck viewing God as that religiously-produced poltergeist. Do I ever worry over these things? Sure, every time I slip back into that dead mentality!! If you have been raised with Christ then HE is your reality. Count on this ... especially every time someone or something demands an alternative reality. Do not give in to the lie that tells you something else, but stand in the reality of Christ.