Today’s passages: Isaiah, chapters 57-59; Psalm 103; 2 Peter, chapter 3
Scripture: 2 Peter 3:14-18 (NRSV) – Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Observations: In the passage immediately preceding this, Peter urges his readers to lead “lives of holiness and godliness” (v 11), because the day of God will come and “the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire” (v 12). The “therefore” which begins this passage, then, is answering the question, “What does it mean to live lives of holiness and godliness?”
(1) Strive to be found by him at peace. I’ve journaled several times on Scripture’s call for us to be people of peace, and what that means. I’m not claiming to understand all of what it means, and I’m certainly not claiming to have this “dialed in,” but I know that when we are “at peace” – with God, with ourselves, and with each other – that will be evident to those around us, and they will see Christ in us.
(2) Without spot or blemish. This is a tough one, because our tendency is to do the things that we think make us without spot or blemish. We also tend to determine whether we are without spot or blemish by comparing ourselves to each other. There are several problems with that. First, of course, is the fact that Jesus told us not to do it. Second, when we compare ourselves to each other, we’re not getting a true picture of where we are spiritually; we need to compare ourselves to Jesus to get a true picture. Third, when we compare ourselves to Jesus, we get discouraged, because of course we will come up on the short end of that comparison. But the fact that we’re called to be without spot or blemish ought to remind us that Jesus has cleansed us, and continues to do so – in him we are able to be without spot or blemish.
(3) Beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. The “error of the lawless” is described in the preceding sentence – twisting Scripture. Peter talks about the fact that some of Paul’s writings are hard to understand, but that we should not fall into the “error of the lawless” and twist those Scriptures to suit our own desires or circumstances. The best insurance we have against misinterpreting Scripture is to know all of Scripture, and what it tells us about God. Misinterpretations of Scripture generally result from a failure to understand the broader context of Scripture and the nature and character of God.
(4) Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I notice that Peter uses verbs in this passage that emphasize our participation in God’s work: strive to be found by him at peace; beware that we’re not carried away by error; grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. We have a part to play in God’s work, by daily surrendering ourselves to him, asking him to show us his way, and then obediently walking in that way each day. As we do that, we will grow in grace – as God works in us, forming us in the image of Jesus – and we will grow in the knowledge of Jesus, as we spend time in his presence.
Applications: God is reminding me that daily vigilance and effort is an important part of the Christian walk. We cannot just put ourselves on “autopilot,” thinking that we’ve got it all under control; each day is a new surrender, a reaffirmation of our commitment to God. Each day we confirm that God is our priority, that we’re seeking first his Kingdom and his righteousness, and that we’re ready to be used by him to see his Kingdom come. But God is also reminding me that he supplies everything that we need in order to do that!
Prayer: Father, thank you for reminding me today that I need to submit each day to you. As I begin the day, I seek your presence. Help me to know your will, to hear your voice, and to walk in your way today. Thank you for the opportunities that you have prepared for me today to glorify you and lift you up; help me to do your will in each opportunity, so others may see you and come to know you. I pray in the name of Jesus, your Son. Amen.