In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:6-9)
The Sad Truth In Our Fiction
Former generations had an optimistic perception of the future. They thought of it in terms of silver jumpsuits, flying cars, and that kind of thing. In the 1960s, people watched George Jetson perform his morning routine on a conveyer belt. As a prototypical family man of days to come, he lived in a floating house and had a robot for a maid. Life on The Jetsons seemed good.
That’s how people dreamed about the future back then. But that has changed dramatically in our time. This generation’s vantage point concerning the future is now embodied much differently. We’ve traded The Jetsons for the likes of The Walking Dead and Interstellar. In today’s entertainment milieu, the future is either portrayed as an impending zombie apocalypse, or as an escape from the planet we’ve ruined via our over-consumption and our refusal to face the facts about climate change.
I believe there is truth in our culture’s fiction, and it sadly reveals that this generation has rejected the optimism once shared by our parents and grandparents. When it comes to the future, we are cynics. Our technological advancements, however impressive, have failed to deliver to us the good life The Jetsons promised.
Joy Inexpressible And Filled With Glory
When the apostle Peter’s first letter circulated throughout the early church, he painted a much different picture of the future—one that was probably just as countercultural in his time as it is in ours. Just like those first century churches, we too are a people in exile, living in a world that is no less hostile to Christianity. But we too can experience the same joy that characterized their worship—”joy inexpressible and filled with glory.”
But how? What must we do in order to experience this glorious joy in our time? Well, according to Peter, there’s only one thing we need to do. It’s obvious—so obvious, in fact, that you might feel like I’m trying to insult your intelligence. But I’m not. In fact, what I’m going to say is the most important thing about us. Nothing matters more than this:
To experience true joy, we must believe the Gospel, living each day as if it is 100% true.
If Jesus Christ is alive and well, seated upon the throne of heaven, it changes everything about how we view the future. We can be confident that it is incredibly bright, and therefore we have every reason to rejoice in the present.
Yes, we still experience very real grievances and trials in this life—sickness, persecution and indwelling sin, to name a few. But as we worship God in Christ, we’re tapping into something that’s far more real than any of life’s circumstances: the promise that we will see Jesus. Knowing we will enjoy eternity with Him produces an untouchable joy within us—a joy that overflows from our souls into the world around us to make a lasting impact for the Gospel.
So what’s your hang-up? What’s stopping you from experiencing the joy of knowing that before too long you’ll be face to face with the risen Christ? I promise you that anything less than utter fascination with the future that awaits you in Jesus will leave you cynical in the end. And cynicism in the church makes for really lousy worship gatherings. That’s not what we want. Instead, we want to see real, death-proof happiness come to a head by bringing together a group of ordinary people who are banking everything on the Gospel being 100% true. That’s what Sunday is all about.
Liturgy for Sunday, January 10, 2016:
The Glorious Three (currently no link)
Call to Worship: Psalm 16
Benediction: Colossians 1:11-12