Today we come to the end of Peter’s second letter, and we’ll be looking at Chapter 3 vs10-18, with a focus on some of the words from verses 11, 14 and 15:
“What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives……. Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.”
At the moment Alan and I are leading the Raising Children course via Zoom, and we have 19 people taking part. Last week we looked at setting boundaries and tomorrow evening – week 3 of the course – we are going to look at the parenting challenges that occur when those boundaries are pushed, broken, or just blatantly ignored and ripped up.
We call the session ‘Communicating when things needs to Change.’ We like to think that it’s a positive, polite and optimistic title, but we recognise that we could just as easily call it “Help! What can I do when I’m tearing my hair out and am at my wits’ end with my kids?”
Although it’s quite a big or serious topic, there are always lots of people on the team who are happy to teach it, because we all have so many examples of when our toddler drew a rainbow in 20 different colours of felt tip pen right in the middle of a carpet that had been fitted less than 48 hours earlier; or when our child stole a dinosaur fossil from school but claimed they had found it by chance in a gutter in Walkley; or of the time when you picked up your teenager from a party and they sat in the back of the car, rather than the front, because they thought that then you won’t be able to smell the alcohol on their breath!!
Parenting children, no matter what their age, takes a great deal of patience. Parenting children when they are either persistently pushing the boundaries or acting as if they didn’t even exist, takes even more patience.
But as earthly parents we still strive to be patient with our children, because we know that they need to learn and develop certain skills, attitudes, and behaviours in order to thrive and flourish, as they grow to maturity as young men and women. And sometimes this is so hard, and we feel like we are being stretched and pushed to our limits.
God is our heavenly father, and we are his children. And just like all children, we push the boundaries that he has given us, we even ignore and disobey them completely. We think that we know better, or we just want to do things our own way all the time.
However, despite this, God never has to strive to be patient. He is always, constantly, and consistently patient with us, as he longs to see us come to maturity as a follower of Christ.
God’s patience with us never wears thin or runs out, because God’s heart is always, constantly and consistently longing for his people to repent and to know and experience the salvation that comes through a relationship with Jesus.
Peter really wanted his readers to take this on board, as verse 15 of today’s passage echoes what he wrote just a few verses earlier in verse 9, that we looked at yesterday.
On both occasions Peter describes God as patient; and being patient for a purpose.
However, in today’s verses, it becomes even clearer that God is not slow or delayed because of procrastination, but because he is having to be patient with us.
We are the purpose or the reason for his patience.
Yesterday we looked at what our response to God’s patience and heavenly timescales should be in terms of our approach or attitude towards waiting, or how we react when we feel God is being slow or delaying something.
Today, Peter’s words direct our attention towards how God’s patience and heavenly timescales should impact our behaviours and our actions.
Repentance means to change or to turn around, to go in a different direction. Salvation means to be saved from something.
By being patient God is giving us the chance to change our behaviour, to turn our actions around, to follow his direction and not our own. His patience offers us the opportunity to be saved from a future that leads to destruction, and instead be placed in a secure position with and by Christ.
This is why Peter writes that whilst we wait for Jesus to return and look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, our response to God’s patience should be to do all we can to live holy and godly lives, to make every effort to be found spotless and blameless.
God’s patience with us is not an excuse to push the boundaries, to ignore or disobey them, or to carry on doing things our own way all the time.
Instead we should be the kind of people who seek to dwell in righteousness now, that we may play our part in seeing God’s kingdom come on earth.
Because what we do now, how we live now, how we relate to others now, what we think now, how we act now – all of these things matter.
As we come to the end of 2 Peter, I can do no better than to share with you the words of Tom Wright, in his summary of this letter,
“Since we know that the day is coming, the day when new heavens and new earth will emerge, filled to the brim with God’s wonderful justice, his glorious setting-right of all things, we should be working towards that already, here and now……I have a sense that this letter might be a word for our times. If our desire is to bring God glory both now and in the day when his new age dawns we could do a lot worse than study it carefully, pray it in, take it to heart, and put it into practice.”
What a great challenge as we end this book of 2 Peter. Let’s ask God to fill us with his Holy Spirit so that this is the kind of person we can be.
Lord, we thank you that you are always, constantly, and consistently patient with us. Help us to be the kind of people who make every effort to be spotless and blameless in your sight; and seek to dwell in righteousness. Fill us with your Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.
BIBLE READING: 2 Peter3:10-17 (NIV)
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.