Meditations in 2 Peter : 31: A Goal
2 Pet 3:14,15 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,
THIS IS the climax of Peter’s argument. Everything else has worked towards this. Hence his “So then,” which is a shortened way of saying, “So, as a result of all that I have been saying….” Again and again in the epistles we find doctrine laid down first and then comes the practical aspects of living that flow out of the doctrine. We are called to live like we do because of all that has gone before, because of all that God has done through Jesus.
Note also his gentle and pastoral approach: “dear friends”. This is not formal language and it is not artificial; Peter doesn’t do that. This is the way Peter views those to whom he is writing, Christians wherever they may be. It may appear a small thing but it is a far call from what is often the reality of Christian leaders and their flocks. At one end of the spectrum we have ‘great men’, big leaders of big churches who are so removed from the flock that they just seems like supermen, high and lifted up and distant. At the other end of the spectrum are small flocks who employ a leader but they see him as a professional who is different from them, and ‘friend’ is rarely a word that they would think of in respect of him. Regrettably it is a sign of the nature of the modern church that leaders don’t see their flocks as friends and the flock certainly doesn’t view the leader as a friend. Thus the role of leader is often very lonely.
But then he focuses back on all he has been saying, “since you are looking forward to this”. What is the ‘this’? It is the Lord’s return and the judgment that will come on the unrighteous and the new world that the Lord will bring in for his children. This is what we are looking forward to. This is purely speculation but I wonder sometimes if when we die (and we die before Jesus returns and all this happens) the Lord will transport us forward to be part of the new heaven and new earth. But the point is that with that in mind, the fact of God going to judge the unrighteous and bless the righteous, we should, “make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” Because of what we know is coming in the future, this is how we should live now. The promised future will impact and should determine how we live in the present.
The writer to the Hebrews presents us with this same principle in respect of Jesus: “Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2) Jesus knew what the outcome of his suffering would be, what he would achieve through it and therefore it was that sure hope that helped carry him through the awfulness of those ‘Easter days’. He endured the Cross and didn’t mind what it appeared to say to so many about him, because he knew his Father would raise him from the dead and then take him back to heaven where he would sit in triumph.
Again and again, we need to hold onto this principle, that God promises blessing on us if we remain faithful to Him, that he will bless our steadfastness and our faithfulness and although we may not know the detail of how He will work it out, we know that He will work it out for good and for our blessing. The worst that can ever happen to us is that we die and go to heaven – and that is glorious. What some of us fear is the way we might die, and in that we must trust Him that His grace will be sufficient for us in the hour of trial. But the end will always be glorious for us, for so He has promised.
But Peter hasn’t finished yet: “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.” Remember, if the Lord appears to delay returning and we ourselves don’t see his return in our lifetime, it is that He has granted a longer opportunity for people to repent and be saved. Every minute He delays is another minute of opportunity for people to turn back to Him. Put as a general principle, we might say that the longer He appears to delay, the more He is wanting to achieve.
We have said it before when considering these things, but if you are still waiting for the Lord to turn up in some particular way and your patience is being stretched, it is because the Lord wants to use the ensuing time in some way. It may be to teach you things, it may be to bring about other things for good and for the salvation of others. We may not know His purposes until after He comes or after He moves, or maybe even after we enter heaven, but I believe He will eventually show us something of His purposes behind His apparent inactivity. Be patient, remain faithful, look to the future when He turns up and things are changed – and hold on with the grace He gives you. Amen.