Kingdom Heat Wave
Today the temperature in my town hit triple digits. While heat can be oppressive, I actually prefer hot weather over cold. I don’t mind sweating if you don’t mind the smell!
Ok, so I do try to respect social norms. Yet, I would much rather have sweat dripping from my chin than frostbite. In the summer I can always cool off by jumping in the ocean, but I can’t warm up by diving in a snow bank. Yup, give me triple digit heat over single digit cold anytime.
However, there is one kind of heat I don’t welcome: the kind produced by trouble and hardship. When I perform a wedding ceremony, I usually explain how the fine metal in a wedding ring is produced by heat. Extreme heat purifies and pushes the dross of foreign matter to the surface. In the same way, a marriage that endures testing becomes stronger and more beautiful with time. Trouble and hardship have a way of driving us deeper into the arms of people we love. But at the time, it is still an unwelcome guest.
There is a kingdom heat produced by the testing of our faith. Every time someone opposes us because of our love for Jesus, our walk with the Lord gets harder. Some are physically persecuted for their faith, and others literally face the flames. The Apostle Peter wrote, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12). The word Peter uses for “painful” can also be translated “fiery.” It is the kind of suffering that refines us for greater works.
When we fast-forward to the book of Revelation and reflect on the end of time, we discover the saints that have come through the great tribulation “shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat” (Revelation 7:16). Thus, the heat that makes our Christian life difficult prepares us for a greater reward, and ultimately brings us to a place where there is no longer a need or cause for purification.
Contrast this process with the other option. A life without trouble is unrealistic. While we don’t invite trouble into our lives, we mustn’t run from it when sin challenges our convictions and evil tests our resolve. Ultimately, if we refuse to engage in a walk with the Lord on any level, we could miss out on heaven. Then we will experience a fire of punishment prepared for those who ignore God’s offer of salvation.
This means we will all face heat one way or another. We will endure it on our way to heaven, or fan it on the way to hell. I realize this statement makes us a bit uncomfortable. But then, that’s the nature of heat. The good news is we have the freedom to choose one over the other.
I’m not saying my preference for triple digit temperatures is justified. If you prefer ice on our roadways, frozen skin and car locks that don’t work, there is nothing in the Bible that says you can’t have these things. Well, there is that passage about the foolishness of man, but I would probably be taking it out of context if I applied it here.
But when it comes to our faith, we should definitely endure heat now so we can avoid it later. We also experience great joy when we suffer for the name of Jesus. Our joy isn’t found in suffering itself, but in the knowledge we are sharing in His work (1 Peter 4:13).
Tomorrow will be cooler than today. At least that’s what the weather man is saying. We can predict the weather, but we can’t foresee trouble with certainty. All we know is, it will come, and when we face it with faith and courage, we will be blessed. And yes, our blessing will involve the elimination of heat.
I guess I need to accept the fact not all of my favorite things will exist in heaven.