2 Peter 3: 14 – 18 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given to him, 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. 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. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
Reflection: These words bring us to the end of the two letters of Peter and form a short summary of the letters.
A strong thread through the letters is the reminder about the way God’s people are meant to live and the many ups and downs through which people can go, individually, or as part of the wider world. There are warnings about the ordeals that Jesus’ followers face, alongside the encouragement always to live in love, and be good stewards of God’s grace.
There is an anticipation of ‘the day of the Lord’ which is still to come, and the need to live in hope for what might yet be, not just to be constrained by the difficulties of the present moment.
The letters end with this three-part summary:
First, there is the need to wait, and not just wait impatiently or angrily, for what is to come. Waiting is to be characterised by peace and patience. It’s an ongoing challenge in these pandemic and, hopefully, post-pandemic, times to wait patiently for what is to come.
Secondly, there is the need to struggle for the understanding of things which seem inexplicable. The challenge is not to twist the truth in one direction or another to suit our own desires, but to go on seeking and praying for wisdom and understanding.
Thirdly, there is the encouragement to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. This grace is transformative for our daily living, giving us hope and strength for all that lies in front of us. The knowledge that flows from God draws us into a loving personal relationship with God, with those around us and with all of creation. It’s discovered, not so much from reading a text, as from engaging in prayer and contemplation and from being part of the community that is the body of Christ in the midst of God’s world.
Prayer Loving God, In the midst of suffering, may I glimpse joy. In the midst of uncertainty, may I find peace. In the midst of bewilderment, may I take time to develop in understanding. When I struggle to bring about change, grant me patience to wait on your leading. May I grow daily in your grace, love and knowledge, for myself and for all your world. Amen.
The Rev’d Dr Elizabeth Welch, retired minister, active theologically and ecumenically, member of St Andrews, Ealing.