The most immediate danger of idolatry is not spiritual death (though that comes later) but spiritual boredom. When we measure our spiritual experiences against the yardstick of comfort, our idols possess limited effectiveness. Idols, after all, wear out; their effects wear off. The result is an unending thirst for novelty: a new worship album, a new Bible study, a new religious project—even a new church community. It’s little wonder why Americans change churches as often as some might change drycleaners.
This also might prompt us to mistake spiritual “busyness” for genuine intimacy with God. We assume that if we’re happy, God must be pleased with us. And if we’re unhappy, then perhaps it’s time to try something new.
Worse, when suffering inevitably comes, we are confronted with the inadequacy of our tokens of comfort. Where does that leave us?
Peter says that nothing—nothing—compares to the promises of God himself. He says that if anything, Christians should rejoice in knowing that God’s promises came true in the person of Jesus:
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (1 Peter 1:10-12)
In her commentary on 1 Peter, Karen Jobes points out the great contrast between the past and present. In the past, prophets looked forward to the arrival of Jesus; in the present we celebrate it. In the past the Spirit revealed God’s future through prophets; in the present the Spirit told us of their fulfillment. In the past, God’s messengers strained to know God’s future with certainty; in the present even the angels strain to gaze into the truths of the gospel.
So, Peter is saying, the sufferings that Christ experienced wasn’t an interruption in God’s plan; it was a vital part of it. That means that the suffering that you and I might experience is likewise a part of an unfolding story.
Boredom produces a wandering eye—always flitting to “what’s next.” But Peter said that even though God’s messengers spoke of “what’s next,” the arrival of Jesus is a joy that surpasses their anticipation. What other message could possibly bring this kind of satisfaction? What other hope is there?
Angels never get bored with the gospel.
And neither should we.