Reading 2 Peter 3:14-18
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. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.
And so we reach the closing of Peter’s 2nd letter. Peter has led us, in my opinion, on a very stimulating journey and this morning we are more reflective as we think about journeys. From the very opening in Peter’s 1st letter, which read, ‘Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: grace and peace be yours in abundance.’ To the closing words of his 2nd letter that we read this morning, ‘But grow in the grace and knowledge of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.’ It has been a journey that has invited us to think about our role as the church here on earth and how we interact with the wider community. There were many words of encouragement, even when persecution and bad times surrounded the early church and how all of this translates into our situation for today. I hope we have found encouragement along the way and I hope also we have been met with a challenge or two for that is how life feels. Peter draws to a close his letter by offering both. All that he has written in the previous chapters are applied across the church encouraging us to live a righteous life that we should be at peace with Christ and enter into this new heaven and earth. Instead of fearing what lies ahead we ought to be living our lives with a confidence in Christ that we should be unashamed to call him Lord. Of all the planning we do over a lifetime how many times have we moved from plan A to plan B and then further on down the line until when the time comes we may even find ourselves on plan ZZ.
Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and our family were joining with us for a BBQ in the garden the rain was falling from early morning and so we had to think of alternatives if our 1st plan was scuppered, thankfully the weather came good in the end. Peter is asking the question what plans would we make if we knew the time and the hour of Jesus return. How would we plan for this? Do find ourselves in such a place that we would have to turn our lives around in preparation or are we living in such a way that we are ready whenever the time comes, that plan is not ours to schedule but it is God’s. Peter also reminds us of the other great letter writer, the apostle Paul, who also wrote about the return of Jesus and how we ought to be ready for that day. Peter mentions that some of the writings of Paul may be difficult to understand but we should not be discouraged by this. Indeed, some of the false teachers are taking Paul’s words and distorting them to suit their own needs. Peter urges us not to do likewise. Be on your guard he says. Do not fall from the secure position in Christ that we have. Grow in grace and knowledge. Christianity is not a religion that does nothing more than make us feel good and be happy. Christianity calls on those who believe to follow Christ. Christians therefor do not follow a religion we follow Christ. We get to know him in a personal way and this grows into our faith communities. As we grow in his grace then we follow his commands and through knowledge of him we grow in his grace. And of course we do feel good and we are happy when we get to this place of relationship and understanding. Peter has shown us that Christ is our example. Peter has shown us that Christ is our goal. Peter tells us that Christ will return according to God’s timing. He then finishes of his letter by referring to those in the church as dear friends and urges them and us to be on our guard. His closing words, ‘But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever! Amen’
In John McLeod’s poem, ‘It’s The Journey That’s Important’ the closing line is, “It’s the journey that’s important, not the getting there!”
I offer the following for your prayer time or times of thought and reflection –
The journey we are on: Where have we been, where will we go?
The people with whom we journey: Our friends and family.
The journey of our church: our church community and the service we offer.