Recent bombings of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt remind us of the dangers of professing Christ as our Lord and Savior. This incident reminds us that following Christ has physical implications that will indeed test our resolve to trust the one true God.
Yet even Christians in Western nations are tested. First the Church is increasingly marginalized as Sundays, even Sunday mornings are being filled with secular activities. Our children’s coaches have told us that if our children wish to remain on the team they cannot miss games and practices, including those on Sundays.
Western Christians are also tested in the application of faith in political discourse. Should we support candidates who challenge our values for sexual morality, for responsibility to care for the earth, and for our neighbors who are hungry or homeless?
Our faith is tested in the hospital room watching a friend or family member suffer a debilitating disease. We ask: “How can a loving, all powerful God allow this to happen?” or “Where is God in all this pain?”
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. — 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NRSV)
On Sunday, April 23rd, we anticipate receiving as new members, those who have completed the confirmation class. However, the tests of faith do not end when they receive a Bible during worship. If anything, this ritual marks the beginning of testing the integrity of faith in all phases of life.
I will have more to say about 1 Peter 1:3-9 and testing of faith on Sunday, April 23rd at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor