Good morning and welcome to Thursday’s podcast. My name is Alan and today we continue our little jaunt through Peter’s second letter. Today we have reached chapter 2 and verses 1-12.
You can hear the full reading at the end of this reflection, but for now, we will read verses 9 and 10. Before that a little context:
This is a tough passage. Peter begins by talking about false prophets who bring swift destruction on themselves, before outlining some of God’s judgements that we read about in the Old Testament. He ends with the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah and how God rescued Lot – Abraham’s nephew – from a depraved and lawless society… here’s today’s reading:
if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.
On Monday and Tuesday we considered the enemy within and the enemy without: the desires of our flesh and the work of the devil. On Wednesday we considered Peter, his life and ministry and how, overcoming his failure, winning the war against the devil, God used him powerfully as he simply bore witness to the majesty of Jesus – as he told people what he had seen and heard of God.
Today we find ourselves wrestling with judgment and punishment – Yippee! Before we go any further I want to be clear…
There will be a day of judgment.
We will be judged.
This is undisputed in the New Testament.
God will judge, he will right every wrong, he will reset the world, there will be justice… and it will be good.
I have been blessed to have a family. I have a rather wonderful wife and 3 children. The eldest is about to leave for university. Now imagine there was some bad stuff going on between my children – I know it seems very unlikely, but believe me we have had our fair share – one is being mean, the other is stealing their sibling’s stuff. Imagine if Helen and I just let it go – if we did nothing. Chaos would ensue. It would be horrible.
Instead we have tried our best to discipline our children. No, not punishment and beatings but discipline… we have tried to train our kids to do the right thing. We have tried to let them feel the consequences of their actions. No, not punishment and beatings, but fractured relationships, anger, broken trust and the possibility of reprisals – justice being taken into the hands of their slighted siblings.
We have had to judge between them.
Have we always got this right? Far from it! Have I had to apologise for getting it wrong? Oh yes, many times.
The point is that without justice there is brokenness, and without God’s justice there is a cycle of fear, hurt and revenge.
As Christians we are called to live a different way. Not turning a blind eye to injustice, not covering over sin as if it doesn’t matter but taking responsibility for our actions, admitting our faults, making amends, ministering forgiveness, seeking reconciliation, allowing room for God’s justice and not seeking revenge.
All this within our own families and within our Christian communities, but it doesn’t stop there. No, we have also been given the task of being salt and light in this world. We have a part to play in standing against injustice, working for greater equality, ministering forgiveness and working for reconciliation, allowing space for God’s justice and so breaking the cycle of fear, hate and punishment.
You see, we will all face judgment… “This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.” – those who do what they want and reject God’s way by the way they live their lives.
Yes we have Jesus alongside us, yes his love casts out a multitude of sins, yes his grace is sufficient for us, yes we have been set free…
So let’s live up to our calling not take it for granted.
“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”
Do I take it for granted that I am godly? Or am I unrighteous?
Do I live my life in such a way that I am becoming part of the solution? Or am I simply part of the problem?
Or perhaps I am a mixture of both?
You see it’s not about a classification… am I one thing or another… it is about direction. You see, we are all on a journey. We are all in a process of sanctification, or we are not. We are being slowly healed and refined and matured… if we let God do his work, if we recognise the battle, if we believe God’s promises and if we partner with God to bring change and transformation to our lives, to our communities and to the lives of those around us. Or we are doing our own thing, ignoring God’s way.
Grace is an invitation to a healing journey with God, empowered by the Spirit, not a golden ticket to be redeemed at the end of a self-absorbed, untransformed life.
Jesus told a story of a man who had been forgiven a large debt by his master who then went out and refused to show mercy to someone who owed him money… God’s love is supposed to change us, we don’t get the benefits without the consequences showing up in our own lives.
When the master heard what the man had done in the story, he took the man and had him thrown in jail.
We will be judged by God…
What is he saying to us this morning?
Father, thank you that you love us so much that on that day you will judge the world and right every wrong. Thank you that you will not let injustice stand and that you care about the inequalities in our society and the harm we do to each other. Help us lord to follow your way, becoming part of your solution and working out your will in the world. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 2 Peter 2:1-12 (NIV)
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) – if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.
Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.