A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Paradise ♦ Spirit Matters Journal

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Paradise

Dr. Matthew V. Johnson, Sr.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you (1 Peter 4:12)

Life is characterized by routines. We tend to get up in the morning at regular times. We have rituals that prepare us in some way for our day. We have certain expectations from day to day of what will, and by implication, what will not happen. We get in our cars with the relative assumption we will have safe and routine travels. We eat and sleep with some regularity. We have the reasonable assumption of functional health. Even if ailing we tend to be aware and make appropriate adjustments in our routines and expectations. We expect that if we do good, good will follow in our fortunes. We expect that if we treat fellow persons right, they will do the same in return. All in all we expect life to move in concert with relatively stable rhythms. If we are good or at least decent Christians we look for and expect God’s companionship and blessing. We expect that the moral law of the universe will favor us in our endeavors. Hence, when troubles arise we are often caught off guard. We just do not expect them, particularly if we are doing all within our power to live in God’s Will.

Yet trouble comes. It finds us. It seems to seek us out. In spite of our best efforts our lives are interrupted by fiery trials. If we are not careful, we misinterpret these troubles. We miss their meaning. We think that God has neglected us. We experience tribulation as a breakdown in the moral order. We think that the spiritual laws have failed us or more drastically that the good life is a farce; that our faith is in vain. This thinking is based on a misunderstanding of the Christian life. Our faith teaches us that the good life often attracts suffering. True Christian faith teaches that living for Christ elicits and often provokes persecution. We are strangers to this world order. We profess a Faith contrary to the ways of the world so it should, in fact, be expected that the world would prove contrary to us. So when the fiery trials come, “Do not think it strange.” Even more, rejoice that you share Christ’s suffering and Glorify God in and through your pain; trusting that God’s promises are secure and God’s fellowship in your suffering is guaranteed!

Servant of Christ,

Pastor Johnson


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