2 Peter 1:2-8
2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
One repeated word in the passage caught my attention…Knowledge. I want everything needed for a Godly life. I want to know about God but even more importantly I want to know God.
Definition: knowl·edge, noun 1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education
I found this quote by James Ray that made sense to me…”Knowledge comes from acquiring information—Knowing comes from ownership.”
Rereading the passage with particular attention to that one word I noticed that knowledge is not the end product of this passage. It’s just a step in the process of finally getting to the real goal, love. That’s key. It’s not about learning enough facts to be smart about God. That’s knowledge. It’s all about figuring out how those facts get worked into me so I can understand what real love is like. That’s productive and effective knowing. That’s ownership.
That is why I read ‘n ponder.
2 Corinthians 5:10 & 17
10 for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
The key trigger phrases for me this morning were:
• …whether good or bad
• The old has gone, the new is here!
One of the mental images I believe the Holy Spirit has given me is that of finally meeting Christ face to face. I’ve only shared it a few times and no one seems wowed by it so it may be completely wrong…but I really don’t think so. I think it disturbs people’s idea of what entering into eternal life with Christ will be like.
In my version, I am wrapped in Jesus” arms prepared for eternity…but first…I see my life for the first time through His reality, like a movie. Frankly some of what I have to see makes me weep tears of sadness that I missed the mark so many times. But those are not tears of guilt or punishment, they are the final cleansing. They are Tears of Purification. There in Christ’s arms the moment of perfection happens; the purification of my heart, soul, mind and strength for all of eternity.
We have come through a long, and well-developed, period of esteem building that hasn’t had the effect we’d hoped. It’s a good thing to be capable, to be strong, to be skilled but there’s a falseness to how we’ve promoted that. We’ve outstripped God himself with our motivational chants and as a result we have, and are, a people who do not recognize that we have settled for better when we could have had best. I’m convinced this is our biggest sin; not the things we do or say. I’m also convinced this keeps people away from the life-giving Jesus.
We have settled for words we hoped would build self-esteem and character but they have spiraled out of control inwardly until all that is left is the conflict of our own inner realities and our programmed ideas of how we SHOULD respond to life. It’s no wonder we are stressed. Inside we know our inadequacies and outside we forge onward based on these personal and cultural mantras we need to rethink:
Have it your way
You can do it
Take care of yourself
You deserve it
Love is never having to say you’re sorry
It’s the real thing
Be true to yourself
Believe in yourself
Feel good about yourself
I’m OK, you’re OK
From the day we’re born finding “the real me” is the task we set out on. Our messages over the years are many but they are not always correct or valuable. Sometimes they seem completely misleading. We are bombarded with basic tools for a reality of success, achievement and pride in our efforts. Those are good and worthy values but they are also part of our struggles.
The messages themselves are a part of the problem but so is our response to them. We need to become aware these motivational message have a downside; leading people to make self-sufficiency their god (with a little “g.”) But there is the big “God” to be considered. He is Sovereign. He is in charge. If we believe that, our quest becomes our opportunity to find ways to transform those messages of success, achievement and pride of accomplishment so they impact hearers in a world-changing way.
Our language of encouragement needs to be transformed from stress producing to stress reducing. No more motivating chants like “you can do it” when they haven’t a clue how, or “have it your way” when it’s obvious they don’t know what that way is. This is culture language that has left us bereft because our inner truth and “fake it ’til you make it” just leave us with a load of stress. We faked it and we didn’t make it; we couldn’t do it. Now what? When did “not getting my way” become failure? When did “need” become weakness? That seems like the biggest hurdle between searchers and Jesus’ promise of abundant life.
2 Peter 1:5-7 “ NIV
…For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.” 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
There is something satisfying about reading Peter’s orderly list of what is needed in my life of faith. It made me think of a jigsaw puzzle; one piece locking into another, each separate but together creating an “all together” whole. It’s a new puzzle and all the pieces are guaranteed to be there, laid out and waiting to be used. It’s a personal puzzle, only you can complete it.
The way to begin is to find the pieces that you recognize to form a workable frame. There may be a few gaps but don’t worry, it will still work. You just start looking for pieces that match and build on what you started with. Sometimes it doesn’t come easy though. It may take a bit of time and hunting to find just one match. It’s really easy to get sidetracked by that and walk away for a time. At other times with almost no effort just the right piece turns up and it’s a perfect fit. Eventually you begin to see the image of what’s to come and that gives you some inspiration. Speed isn’t required to complete the puzzle but perseverance is essential if you want to complete The Big Picture.
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