Reading: 2 Peter 3: 8-15a
Verse Eleven: “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.”
The followers of Jesus that lived in His lifetime thought that He would return very soon – in weeks or maybe in months. But as the months turned into years and the years into decades, it became harder and harder to wait. Not only did Jesus not return, but the Jews and other non-Christians were more than willing to remind them. Over time the faithful began to wait with a patient and enduring hope. Peter writes of this, saying, “He is patient… not wanting anyone to perish”. Maybe God has not allowed Jesus to return just yet because there are still more souls to be saved.
I read a story in my devotional this morning about a woman who also held onto hope. The militia had arrested her husband and son three years before, yet she continued to come every Monday, to the local police station, to hold a prayer vigil for her husband and son. One day a guard mocked her and she replied with faith: “God’s justice will never fail. It may come today or it may come in a 1,000 years, but it is coming”. Her rock-solid faith allowed her to stand in the face of beatings and other persecutions to continue to pray for her family. She stood on God’s promise to one day return and make all things new.
While all this is to say that God is patient, Peter also reminds us that the return will come like “a thief in the night”. It will be quick and unexpected. This idea makes me think of the Berlin Wall and the 9/11 attacks. The Wall had seemed to stand forever – as long as anyone could remember. Then one day, it was suddenly torn down. The twin towers had always seemed to be in the skyline view, then one day they suddenly were not. In light of this unknown time, Peter asks us, “”What kind of people ought you to be?” Without pause he continues to answer the question, saying, “You ought to live holy and godly lives.” He calls us to live as Jesus lived, holy and godly.
Yes, we will fall short at times. Yes, we lose our grip on the promise now and then. In our last verse, Peter adds a word of encouragement that we need to hold fast to: “Bear in mind that the Lord’s patience means salvation”. It is a love that never ends and a mercy that washes over sin after sin. Thanks be to God for your steadfast love and your patient mercy.