2 Peter 3: 1 – 13 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 that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour spoken through your apostles. First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’ 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, through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the present heavens and earth have been reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgement and destruction of the godless.
Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 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? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
Reflection Back to normal? I hope not. “Normal” has been the problem in so many ways in our country and throughout the world. People exploited, badly housed, hungry, children neglected, disease spreading, fighting and terrorism – with people all too often lacking a clear spiritual focus in life. Is that what we want to continue to experience? Is that the acceptable pattern for living that we find normal?
Our author in 2 Peter recognised that his readers had grown impatient as they waited for “the day of the Lord,” too often and too easily accepting the continuing pattern of fallen human life; they needed to be aroused and reminded of all they had been taught. They wanted action and fulfilment immediately: they were impatient for change – change in ways they wanted.
I find myself conflicted as I write this Reflection as I too am impatient for change from what has too long been considered normal. Our author reminded his readers not to confuse human time with God’s – the Lord is not slow, but patient. giving people time for repentance, making the personal and communal changes to a god-centred way of living. The writer challenges, asking, “what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?”
In our lives and through our lives, active lives promoting the principles and actions proclaimed by Jesus in the “Sermon on the Mount” we do what we can to make a new normal so very different from the old one.
Prayer Jesus, with all your Church I long to see your kingdom come: show me your way of righting wrong and turning sorrow into song until you bring me home. Amen. Caryl Micklem, R&S 497
The Rev’d Julian Macro, Retired Minister, member of Verwood URC