Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fool's Gold

By Jake Magee

“6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 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, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).

You’ve heard it before: “If you have big faith, then you’ll get gold.” Okay, people aren’t usually that brazen, at least not any more. The pitch has been purged of the conspicuous avarice and repackaged into more acceptable wrappings: “If you have enough faith, you’ll get golden circumstances, golden opportunities, golden dreams…”

It’s all fool’s gold.

Peter knows no such formula. He writes to a people whose gold was perishing: property confiscated, families divided, stability disrupted, peace vanquished, and for many lives were taken. The Roman dream disappeared in a column of smoke - literally. Caesar Nero set fire to the city of Rome and subsequently accused Christians for the deed. The persecution that ensued would take both Peter and Paul’s lives. The gates of hell advanced, but didn’t prevail.

Peter says to the faithful facing heightening persecution, “you’re losing your gold, but you’re getting something infinitely better: greater faith.”

“…faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable”

He directly links the loss of prosperity with the achievement of rich faith. It is the exchange of earthly commodities for heavenly currency that moves the battered remnant to “greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.” “In this you greatly rejoice…”

Contrary to the modern formation: “get faith, and you’ll get gold.” Peter says, “Lose the gold, and you’ll get faith.”

Beware of Fool’s Gold.