2 Peter 3:1-10, 17-18
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 Savior 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 judgment and destruction of the godless.
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. 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 Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen
Surely, we’ve all heard the one about a man who asked God, “What’s a million years to you?” God replied, “To me it’s only a minute.” “And what’s a million dollars?” “To me, it’s only a cent.” “So…can I have one of your cents?” “Sure, just give me a minute.” Well, nestled in the heart of our text for this morning is a similar comparison, “that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” Both comparisons help illustrate the awesome timelessness of our God, that God and God’s work somehow manages to transcend time. We know God exists outside of time. He existed before time began and will exist long after time ends. We know this and yet it’s quite difficult to wrap our minds around it. How can anything or anyone exist outside of time? Or better yet, how can something or someone exist in shortened or elongated time? I think we’ve only begun to understand such ideas as we’ve explored the nature of black holes and wormholes. As it’s beginning to be revealed, time isn’t quite as linear as we’d expect it to be. The past can become the present. The present can become the future. The future can become the past. Time is a very fluid construct. And time can be manipulated. While the past can’t necessarily be changed, the present and future certainly can be. I suppose that’s why it’s advisable to try and live in the present and future. We can change our present and futures. We can’t change the past. Why live in the past? There’s nothing to be gained by it other than to help us live better in the present and the future. The past is meant to be an aid for living in the present and the future. It isn’t meant to be lived in itself. We’d be wise to remember this. Nonetheless, we’re coming to understand just how fluid and nonlinear time is and scripture has been telling us this for a long time as evidenced by our reading.
Our God is a God that transcends time and oh, what a blessing that is for us! We can know that the joys and struggles of this life in this world are not all that there is. There is a reality beyond this life and this world! We ought not worry and fret over the struggles of this world. We ought to consider struggles simply as opportunities to grow. That’s all God ever wants from any of us, simply to grow. Like seeds in a garden, each of us has been planted in this world for a short time to grow and hopefully bear fruit for the world around us. When we stop growing, we start dying and eventually God just takes us out of this world and welcomes us home. But that’s a different message for a different day…
Peter remarked on the transcendence of God only to lift up an equally important quality of God: patience. Because He exists outside of time, God has endless patience for those of us who exist within time. And we ought to exhibit the same patience in our lives and with those around us if we are to be like him. Time may not be linear, time may be fluid, but that doesn’t mean we are to be any less patient. Peter was writing his letter to anxious people who were wondering when our Lord would reclaim his authority and reign once again. Many of us are anxious in our own times. The pandemic from the last few years certainly didn’t help our anxieties. Peter’s words of encouragement to be patient apply to us just as they did those who first received his letter. They’re words echoed by the apostle Paul as well in his letters. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (4:6) By patiently praying our concerns to God, we receive the deep and abiding peace that comes from him and him alone. And in his letter to the Galatians, Paul advises, “so let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” (6:9) By patiently doing what is right over and over, we are rewarded by God with great wisdom and contentment. Patience is not without its benefits after all.
So as we close out this brief sermon series on Peter’s 2nd letter, let us be affirmed in our commitment to lives of faith and patience. Peter wants us to patiently seek out God in our daily living. His letter is about encouraging good discipleship and faithful living and we give thanks for it. Thanks be to God!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.