Dislocations of FaithDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:
The Apostle Peter’s first letter was written to believers in what is now Asia Minor, or Turkey. We don’t precisely know what they were experiencing, but the sense is that they were suffering persecution for their faith. Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire ran the full gamut—from mild, to torture and death. Most persecutions tended to be regional or local, like the one Peter is referring to.
No matter how mild or severe, what persecutions did then, and what they do today, is to disconnect Christians from the familiar environment and culture they live in. That neighbor for whom you provided a meal after a family death reports you to the authorities. The building where you worship is burned or vandalized. Instead of buying food for your family, you find yourself in jail, and not knowing what, if anything, has happened to the people you love. Your material belongings and your bank account are confiscated.
I call these experiences the “dislocations of faith.”
But, dislocations of faith don’t have to be persecutions. They can be any unexpected or significant change: the sudden death of a spouse, being laid off from your job, a reorganization at work that sends you from top to bottom or even out the door, a serious illness or injury.
Whatever they are, they happen, and they upend the normal, the familiar, and the everyday. We are no longer centered as we were. Everything changes, and permanently. These dislocations challenge our faith, lead us to question and doubt, and we sometimes get angry that God would allow something like this to happen.
Peter does not dismiss these dislocations as insignificant. He experienced enough of them himself, including the dislocation of denying Jesus three times and the scattering of the apostles after Jesus was arrested. He understood what these believers in Asia Minor were experiencing, because he spoke from similar experiences.
He reminded them of a very simple truth: they loved God. None of them had seen Jesus, but they believed in him. They had the joy of that belief, an “inexpressible and glorious” joy, and no one and no event could ever take that from them.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you experienced a “dislocation of faith”? Has life thrown a curve at you that you were completely unprepared for? Do you ask why God would let terrible things happen? How were you able to refocus from coping with the “dislocation” to turning your face to God?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner. I doubt when life doesn’t go according to plan; I falter in my faith because the unexpected happens and appears to turn my life upside down. I think I have the story of my life written only to find the plot has been changed, the characters changed, and the outcome unknown.
Help me, Lord, to turn from the transient to the eternal. Remind me, as Peter did, of the truth of my love for you. Remind me of the glorious joy of faith, a joy that can never be taken from me because it is the gift you gave me. And your gifts, unlike this earthly life, are forever. Focus my attention, Lord, on what matters for eternity, to love you and love my neighbor, to live so that the light of your grace shines in me and from me, that no matter what the circumstances, the world will know me as yours. Amen.
P. S. from Mark: For Our British Readers: A friend of ours at Cambridge and Oxford, Dr. Peter Heslam, is hosting a symposium on Business for the Common Good, September 26-27 at the Såid Business School, University of Oxford. This is an invitation only event, and Dr. Heslam has graciously allowed us to extend this invitation to readers of The High Calling. Click here for more information. For our non-British readers, we hope that you will join us in praying for God’s grace in this event and thanking God for the good he is doing around the world in the global conversation about faith and work.
"Upheaval" is something most of us dislike, especially when it applies to our work situation. When the corporate structure changes or we're forced into an uncomfortable position, how do we respond? Maybe we cope by denying anything's wrong and carrying on as if we're not upset. If we're a "Ready, Aim, Fire!" kind of person, we might strike out at people around us before seeking God's wisdom. Either approach can backfire, leaving us in more of a chaotic situation than before. In our series Keep Calm, The High Calling offers stories full of hard-won wisdom and practical ideas for coping with extreme—and often unwanted—changes in the workplace.
Featured image by elPadawan. Used with Permission. Source via Flickr.