God has placed the theme of waiting on my heart this Advent, I think because it is actually a theme of Advent and also because of our situation – a very 1 Peter like situation. And so, along with waiting, my attention has been drawn to this brief letter.
Like a lot of NT letters, it is packed with so many truths that one could write volumes about them… and scholars have indeed written volumes. But as I studied this letter, a few themes stood out that we will explore a bit this Sunday. These are the themes of the trough of the J-Curve (remember from last week?).
Suffering for Christ is not a surprise (1 Peter 4:12). Don’t let the evil one lie to you that suffering is odd, contrary to God’s goodness, or meant to be occasional. Just read the Bible… like every page. Suffering as a follower of Christ is normal, a means of God’s goodness, and frequent. Put another way, just as life is not a series of fulfillments punctuated by waits, but rather a series of waits punctuated by fulfillments, so also life is a series of trials, afflictions, and crosses that are punctuations of God’s glory. Why?
Jesus’s J-Curve is our J-Curve
Allow me to be a bit cheesy… The J-Curve is named as such because of the architecture of the letter which is an upside-down upsilon vector (I know, pretty nerdy) with a long tail of escalating glory. But the J can also remind us of Jesus, who is the bold demonstration of that very vector – from good, to trough of suffering, to better than we can imagine. Jesus suffered the incarnation into a fallen world after his heavenly glory, suffered as a human and then at the hands of his enemies and ultimately upon the cross, only to be vindicated and glorified into greater glory, now back and enthroned and ruling (Phil 2:1-10). Jesus is the J-Curve, and Peter says that over and over again in his letter.
There is glory for the believer
For those of us who have embraced a God-centered theology, this is an awkward truth. But it is a clear Biblical truth. God is going to share his glory with us.
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.Romans 8:16-17
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.1 Peer 6-7
This is hard for me to wrap my mind around, but I assure you (and me) it is true.
Wow. Now, here is the deal: for those given glory, they joyfully refract that glory right back to the source, the Lord, just like the moon is merely reflecting the light of the sun. Nonetheless, believer, you and I get to dine upon the glory of God, a bit in this life, and in full in the age to come. Wow (again).
So, yes, we are called to wait, often in the trough, but what reward and glory there is as we do so.