Sunday, August 21, 2016

Make Every Effort...

August 21, 2016

As pastor Roy was preaching this morning on "the Last Days," he referred almost in passing to 2 Peter 3:14. "While you wait for these things, make every effort to be found at peace with [Jesus Christ]  without spot or blemish." The old KJV that I learned uses the words, "be diligent..." The meaning is the same, but the modern variation grabbed my attention. It is a delicate balance we Christians hold between grace and works. Our salvation is God's gift to us, undeserved and unearned. That is what we call grace: getting better than we deserve. I've experienced it from countless people who by every right could have justifiably turned their backs on me, but didn't, but also, directly from God.

It is the constant temptation of grace to receive it freely without giving thought to the responsibility it bestows. Israel was chosen by God; take it from someone who knows what it feels like to not be chosen: it's a good thing to be chosen. But far from being a free ride, that "chosenness" carried with it God's plan to use them to demonstrate to the world what being chosen was all about, ie, being different. Like us, they didn't like being different, and were constantly chafing against the calling and responsibility that chosenness entailed.

As Christians, we have been chosen in Christ (Eph. 1:3-7) to demonstrate to the world the riches of God's love towards us. We cannot do that if having been chosen, we effectively say, "That's nice; now I'll just go back to what I was doing before." That's what's behind Peter's words here. I tend to get lazy, not exerting much effort to be holy and without blemish. Let me tell you, holiness doesn't happen automatically. The word primarily means, "different," and everything within us fights against being different. Even those of us who pride ourselves on bucking the establishment have our own group of people like us who encourage us in our anti-establishmentarianism.

I am thankful today for Roy's sermon and for this text to which he called our attention. If it wouldn't have been rude and if I hadn't been playing bass in the band, I could have gotten up right then and there and gone home, having heard the Word from the Lord that I needed to hear today. I stayed, but my mind stayed with that verse: While I am waiting for Christ's return, I must "make every effort..." I must not let up or slack off, and by God's grace, I will not do either.

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