Scripture: 1 Peter 1:3-9 – 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, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, 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 honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 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, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Reflection: Maye and I owned and operated a jewelry store for nine years before entering into ordained ministry.
We bought and sold 10K and 14K gold, and on occasion, 18K gold.
Customers would often bring pieces of jewelry they would buy from someone – often at a very reasonable price – for an appraisal. I could usually tell by the color of the piece or its weight if the article was genuine precious gold or some other gold-plated non-precious metal.
When in doubt, I had other ways to test for the genuineness of the piece. I would look for a manufacturer’s stamp, signs of flaking, and color variations.
If I still had questions, I would use a sulfuric acid test. The test works by lightly scratching a particular stone with the item, then putting a small drop of acid on the gold streak and watch for a reaction. If the streak bubbles or starts to turn green, it is not gold.
The customers rejoiced when the item they brought for appraisal was found to be genuine precious gold, having more value than what they paid for it. They were distraught if they learned that their item was not precious gold, and they had been fooled.
Peter is encouraging his church to hold on to their present and precious eternal hope in Jesus Christ. He comforts a newly formed church that is undergoing the acid test of suffering for their faith. Peter assures them that God is protecting them through all their distress.
He strengthens them by reminding them that God vindicated Jesus through the resurrection. He tells them of their love for Jesus, their indescribable and glorious joy when they first came to believe in Jesus, and of the eternal value of their souls.
Sulfuric acid is caustic and highly corrosive. It causes severe skin burns, difficulty breathing, can cause blindness, and burn a hole through the stomach if swallowed. Yet, it cannot corrode pure gold.
Peter recognizes that suffering, like sulfuric acid, is highly corrosive to our wellbeing and our faith. Distress causes favorable or unfavorable reactions to God and our faith. Troubles and dissappointment can turn us away from faith or lead our faith to become more dependent on the mercy and grace of God for persevering strength to endure trials. He asserts that no amount of tribulation can corrode a genuine faith protected by the power of God to be revealed in the last time.
Prayer: Loving and merciful God, protect the faith, and establish the living hope of those that are suffering from various trials this day who have believed in and love Jesus. Keep their hope alive, focused on the imperishable, undefiled, and unfading inheritance that is ours through Jesus Christ. Amen.