“In this [salvation from God] you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” ~1 Peter 1:6-7
Suffering, while it may not be as much a part of the everyday fabric of our lives as it was when Peter was writing, should probably be more a part of our lives than it is. True, ours is an age of toleration and pluralism. These two characteristic virtues clearly retard a society’s inclination to persecute. Nor is our society as intense about its religious beliefs as other parts of the world, which inculcate both a quicker and more physical response to strange ideas and practices.
But even if we bracket out our Western civility, the contrast between the Christian community’s belief in the gospel as well as its commitment to holy living and our culture’s unbelief in the gospel and its permissiveness ought to generate more sparks than it does. I contend that one of the reasons there are so few sparks is because the fires of commitment and unswerving confession of the truth of the gospel are too frequently set on low flame, as if the church grows best if it only simmers rather than boils.
~Scott McKnight, 1996