But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
2 Peter 3:8-15a
Expect the Unexpected
In 2013 I spoke briefly at the Triennial New Wineskins for Global Missions Conference. The theme of my talk was “Expect the Unexpected.” Scripture has much to say about expecting the unexpected, such as, for example, the sudden return of Jesus Christ, especially in the Scripture readings the lectionary recommends during our annual season of Advent. For today’s reading in 2 Peter 3, C.S. Lewis and Psalm 139 help set the stage for why expecting the unexpected for all followers of Jesus Christ is to be a way of life.
God’s perception of time is described in 2 Peter 3:8 this way: “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
C.S. Lewis has this to add about God and time: “And God is eternal, not perpetual. Strictly speaking, he never foresees; He simply sees. Your ‘future’ is only an area, and only for us a special area, of His infinite Now.” (C.S. Lewis, ‘The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature” p. 89)
And the Psalmist in Psalm 139:16 says this: “Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you. The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day.” (The Message)
Advent is both the season of the remembrance of the miraculous incarnation of our Lord, Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ, a promise fulfilled, and the anticipation of Christ’s second coming in glory, to bring God’s judgement on the earth, a promise yet to be fulfilled.
Karl Barth wrote these words: “Unfulfilled and fulfilled promise, are related to each other, as are dawn and sunrise. Both are promise and in fact the same promise. If anywhere at all, then it is precisely in the light of the coming of Christ that faith has become Advent faith, the expectation of future revelation. But faith knows for whom and for what it is waiting. It is fulfilled faith because it lays hold on the fulfilled promise.” (Karl Barth, “Christmas” Published by Oliver & Boyd 1st Ed. 1959)
In today’s reading in 2 Peter 3:8-15a, Peter brings clarity to the following points:
· Jesus is waiting for more sinners to repent and turn to Him.
· God’s purpose for people is not destruction but re-creation.
· As followers of Jesus, we should expect His sudden, unexpected return at any moment and realize that time is short and that we still have important work to do in bringing the Gospel of Christ to those who do not believe.
· God calls us to be healing companions to sinners who repent and turn to Christ, especially those who have been deceived by today’s cultural norms and are still struggling with the guilt, pain and fear of their past sins.
· God will purify the heavens and earth with fire; then He will create them anew. So we can joyously look forward to the restoration of God’s good world.
My prayer for us all is that we prepare ourselves to “Expect the Unexpected,” so that we are ready to meet Christ at any time, even today. Yet, we plan our course of service as though Christ may not return for many years, determine what we want to be doing when Christ does return, and live that out each day for the rest of our lives.
Heavenly Father, may we not be swayed by the temptations of this world. Turn our hearts and minds to Your Promises, given to us by Your Word. May we live our lives glorifying You in all we do, celebrating the gift of Life You have given us, in preparation for our future home with You in Heaven, in Your time, not ours. We ask these things in Your Name, Amen.
This week’s reflection has been written The Rev. Ron McKeon. Ron began his relationship with Anglicans for Life as a staff accountant in 2004 while a seminary student at Trinity School for Ministry, Ambridge, PA. After graduation and ordination to the Transitional Deaconate in 2007 Ron was elected to the AFL Board of Directors and became AFL’s Treasurer, a role he continues to fulfill. Today Ron and his wife Debby serve as SAMS (Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders) missionaries in the Anglican Church in Brazil – Diocese of Recife in the city of João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil. Ron is a parish priest and special assistant to Suffragan Bishop Flávio Soares the Diocesan Missionary Bishop. They have five daughters and seven grandchildren in the USA. Learn more about Ron and Debby’s ministry.