June 16, 2022
TODAY’S SCRIPTURE REFERENCE:
“Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. Instead, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forevermore. AMEN. (2 Peter 3.17-18)
I have allowed the following question to guide my reflections on the scripture above:
“What might Peter have meant when he directed Christ followers to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?’”
I have suggested two options, thus far: forgiveness and repentance. The Apostle Paul reminded the faith community in Corinth that they could understand themselves as a people in the way they understood themselves as a person. By that, I mean he urged them to consider the community of faith they were a part of was like the body. The body is made up of many parts yet it is one body. In the wisdom and purpose of God there were no lesser parts of the body. Each was designed with a purpose and function that served the whole of the body. In my teen years, there was a saying that made its way to posters and bumper stickers saying “God don’t make junk.” The affirmation of the value of the person was in evidence. God does not deal with trivial matters or fanciful asides. Everything is of vital importance in the grand scheme of life. We believe that there is nothing too great that God cannot handle. We also know there is nothing too small that escapes God’s attention. Popularized during my same growing up period as mentioned above was a phrase “The devil is in the details.” Reflecting more of the “sign of the time,” this phrase was changed from its origin in either French or German construct which actually declared “God (or loving God) is in the detail.” How it is used today over and against how it was originally presented shows us the decline of accountability to the truth. Either we see the movement toward the infamous “God is dead” philosophy and ideology or we see the lack of understanding as to the nature and character of the word (and by extension) the person of the “devil.” Or, I might suggest the purposeful yet seemingly accidental acknowledgement of the same. Without getting into a long diatribe concerning monotheism versus dualism, the function of the Devil, or Satan, is quite literally troubling. It leads me to reflect on the purpose of Peter’s directive as one of perhaps “the seeking of truth.”
To “grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ” can be the invitation to pursue the truth of God, God’s purpose and God’s plan for humanity in specific and creation in general. Peter warns each community of faith and the members of those communities to “be on guard so that you are not carried away by the instruction of the lawless and thus surrender your secure position.” Secure position? Can that be anything else but our place in Heaven when the truth of resurrection comes to our lives? In the name of Jesus the Christ we are assured of a certain number of immutable realities: trouble in this world for being faithful to Him; hardship because we live in a broken world; God’s provision in all things; our salvation through God’s love, mercy and grace as well as the blessing of the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and direct our journey of faith and faithfulness. You see, “details” matter. While we may not understand all things, and we never will understand all things regardless of how much we know, we do know and can know better the creator of All Things. It would seem that the more answers we may discover, the more questions are raised. It can be “bedeviling” to find another corner just around the corner or another peak beyond the one we have climbed or another mystery when the one we resolved to solve was resolved. “The devil” you say! Oh how Lucifer, Satan or Devil by whichever name you may indentify him with wants so much to be separate from the rule, reign and reason of God. And yet, oh how he continues to serve the function and purpose of God’s being and existence. Someone has to do it and someone has to pay a price for it. Sadly, if you could “just ask Judas.” Does that someone have to be “us” or “you” or “me”? The answer is “no, not unless we decide to remain in the negative of that which is positive.” God created all things to the very, and seemingly infinite, detail. Whether we look deep within or far beyond, we are still being surprised by what is “out there.” Yes, X-File fans, “the truth is out there.” But, the truth is also in here. Ultimately the truth is as it was in the beginning of both the Old and New Testaments and at the end of all testimony: God is, was and will always be. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Peter’s call to beware of lawlessness is the urging to “trust God in all things and seek the who, what, where and why of God in them.” It is the pursuit of knowledge, wisdom and truth. The debate rages on as to “what is the true truth.” The urge of some is that truth is finite and conditional, therefore it can be changed or will be changed to suit the current situation with “situational ethics.” But, nothing can be further from the truth. There is but one ethic and moral that defines all else. That one is Jesus the Christ. As John remembers the teaching of Jesus concerning Himself, he wrote “I AM the way, the truth and the life and no one can draw near to understanding God unless they draw near to Me.” Exclusive? Narrow? Yes. But, integrating and reconciling. The intention was, is and will always be the drawing together of the body of faith in which the Spirit of God truly and fully exists. There can be no other viable option with maximum blessing. We can pursue the “devil in the details and get lost” or we can pursue “the loving God in the detail and rest assured of not only being found but welcomed, encouraged and whole.
OUR CALL TO PRAYER: Father God, maker of Heaven and earth, we bow before You and give thanks. You are seeking to make us wise in the ways of Your Kingdom through the knowledge and grace of Your Son, Jesus who is the Christ. We are seeking to be wise by embracing Your word and Your revelation in Him to us. Thank You for honoring His request to share His Spirit with us. We come before You repenting of our sins and embracing Your forgiveness. It is the very forgiveness we are called to share with one another, even our enemies, so that none of us will continue to be Your enemy. Thank You for challenging us to seek the truth and to live fully in it. Thank You for cultivating the environment of grace around us so that we can be better disciples and share the Good News with the world. Come with us, Lord, we pray. AMEN.