Scott Sanders launches our Advent series by getting lost in the bush and finding the humble path - at expense of his pride.
Charlene Delos Santos was born in the Philippines, grew up and lives in Naarm/Melbourne, and is the co-director of Surrender.
Today's reading is 2 Peter 3:1-18
One of the things I love as part of the Surrender community is that I get to see glimpses of the kingdom through various gatherings in the year. One of these gatherings was our Surrender Adelaide Conference in October. Once again, my heart was filled! I saw diverse groups of people sharing their stories in vulnerable ways, and we collectively encouraged each other to work towards the vision of the kingdom.
As I was driving back to Melbourne from Adelaide, I was hit with a reality check. I was at a toilet stop and a man told me to speak English and go back to where I came from. I had not experienced that sort of overt racism for quite a while. I was in total shock, not knowing how to respond back, and I burst into tears. I had just come from this beautiful communal experience of the kingdom, only to be punched in the guts and reminded of the ugliness and brokenness in this world.
In 2 Peter, we read that some people were questioning and mocking this community of Jesus followers. They were questioning where their God was. Jesus was meant to have come back already, right? But everything still looks the same – unchanged! Sometimes when I am disheartened, I ask similar questions...we talk about the good news of the kingdom changing this world, but is it really? There’s still so much brokenness...Do we still have to deal with racism in this age? Are we actually going backwards rather than making any positive change?
But the writer of 2 Peter, reminds us: fear not, God is at work but not in the way we expect. Not slowly, as you like to think God might be. But rather, God is working patiently, because, as The Message puts it, God is giving everyone the space and time to change. There is hope for change to happen in all of us, including change to those who seek to harm and create division.
In the midst of this Advent season, this passage encourages us to live a life dedicated to God. In our waiting, and when we feel disheartened, let’s be people of endurance, faith and love, holding onto the vision and promise that God will renew all creation – in God’s timing.
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2 Peter 3:1-18
The Promise of the Lord’s Coming
3 This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you 2 that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles. 3 First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died,[a]all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!” 5 They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, 6 through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.
8 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you,[b] not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.[c]
11 Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
Final Exhortation and Doxology
14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 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. 17 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. 18 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.[e]