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"Make Every Effort" ~ How We Respond to God's Grace

Perhaps you’re like me: from time to time I catch myself thinking, “If only I had a little more faith I could be a better disciple.” Actually, we could substitute nearly any other quality for the word faith, “if only I had a little more teaching, time, energy . . .” Most of us are keenly aware of the qualities we lack as followers of Jesus. We possess the assurance of our weakness instead of the assurance of his faithfulness.

Let me share with you a passage from Peter’s second letter that changed my life forever:
"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort . . ." ~ 2 Peter 1: 3 - 5

When I read this passage several years ago it flashed like lightning across my heart, and the thunder still rattles my everyday life. Let me share seven meditations from these amazing words. Perhaps you could carry them with you, one each day, though even a whole day is not enough time to consider the implications of each statement.

• “His divine power . . .” As followers of Jesus, our everyday life in Christ should be based upon his divine power, not our human strength.

• “has given us everything we need for life and godliness . . .” The problem is, most of us think that God did everything on the cross and now the rest of our life in Christ depends upon us. Good news: he isn’t finished dispensing his grace!

• “through our knowledge of him . . .” Road block—our western mindset leads us to believe that the knowledge of him comes through mere study. A more fruitful approach is to know him by experiencing his presence.

• “his own glory and goodness. . . ” 21st century Americans have difficulty understanding “glory,” but his glory can impact our life—and he is good beyond all measure. Better yet: his glory and goodness are directed toward us!

• “He has given us very great and precious promises . . .” Do we ever reflect upon his promises? I’m afraid that for most of us his promises are like autumn leaves: beautiful, but not very useful.

• “So that through them you may participate in the divine nature . . .” Here is where the lightning flash knocked me over. We can participate in God’s nature, right here, right now. Who knows the full meaning of this phrase? Whatever it means, it has to be good!

• “and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires . . . “ Many believers are trapped into thinking the gospel is only about forgiveness, but the good news is even better: we can be set free from the cycle of corruption!

These are the seven meditations, but there remains one further step. The scripture calls us to action as well:

“For this very reason, make every effort . . .” Notice that “effort” comes after we encounter his divine power, his glory and goodness, and his precious promises. Too many disciples of Jesus, serious in their commitment to follow him, believe that their effort comes first. Instead, our effort is a response to all he has done.

“For this very reason, make every effort . . .” But there is another segment of Christians who think effort is opposed to grace. For these friends we can only quote Dallas Willard (as we do so often!) “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.”

The challenge of this passage continues into verses 5 – 11. The danger of these next verses is that we believe we can accomplish the list apart from his divine power, his glory and goodness, and his precious promises. Don’t be in a hurry. Take a week to meditate on what he has done. It will take a lifetime to “make every effort.”

Reader Comments (8)

I don’t remember as well as I would like but I’m wondering if I ever thought, “If I only had a little more trust in my mother and father I could be a better learning son”. I do know that I stayed with my parents, in their home that they graciously provided for me, because I had an undying faith that they loved me and were far more capable to support my survival than I could possibly be.

Might this be another perspective on, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness”? You know, like, “Their divine power has given me everything I need for life and becoming a parent myself through my knowledge of them who called me by their own glory and goodness”. I thank my parents for all they did for me temporally and all that my Father in Heaven does for me eternally.

I thank you for the opportunity to realize and voice how fortunate I am.

I note that there are three at this moment who like your post, four counting me who hasn’t voted. I wish at least those three would participate by sharing what they liked and what they might not have liked. What they really think and feel we both (at the risk of putting feelings in your heart) really care to learn from and in love dialog with.

Thank you Ray!

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

Hi Herm: I'm so pleased to give you the chance to voice how fortunate you feel. Different people respond (interact) to blogs in different ways. I'm thankful for their votes of confidence, and yours!

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Again I suggest that ultimately you will get tossed out of your denomination for saying and believing such things. But this will be a good thing, not a bad thing. The Vineyard at large, I think, is now about preserving the bureaucracy rather than the mission.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCharles

"We possess the assurance of our weakness instead of the assurance of his faithfulness." Boom! That is the truth.

I definitely need to meditate on the 2 Peter passage—I realize there are things about it I fully believe, like God has given me everything I need for life and godliness, but I still also have this sense that my lack of being/doing enough cancels those good gifts out. In my mind, it's sort of similar to how my parents gave me everything I needed to be a great musician—lessons, natural talent, etc.—but I didn't take what they gave me and really do something with it. The "make every effort" part of my Christian life seems to keep me captive to my weaknesses.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristin T. (@kt_writes)

Charles, Jesus was kicked out of His denomination in the harshest way possible for saying and believing such things. I don’t believe in martyrdom by my choice but I choose to remain honest to truth and love at any cost. The world we are commissioned to make disciples taught directly by Jesus includes the Vineyard at large.

If I am called I will enter any denomination and religion for there too is God’s love even if His truth is not. I can honestly say this because I have done so in several competing denominations and a couple different religions. I survived and all involved became stronger and learned more.

I cannot serve more than one master and there is only One in touch with my heart and mind who is eternally faithful wielding a love that is big enough for all. I am blind without Him as my Guide.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

Hi Charles: Let me assure you that I'm safe in the Vineyard, and that I respect and admire my tribe. What's more, I'm beloved within it.

Kristin: It's my observation that, in an attempt to underscore God's grace, we have been told over and over that we are flawed and have no intrinsic value whatsoever. But one of my teachers (Francis Schaeffer) impressed upon me that everything God does has value, and since he created us, we have great value. Add to that the power of Christ's redemption, and we become a marvel of creation and new creation. All because of his goodness. How could we gainsay his work?

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Ray, this is a great post. Its message is very rich. One of the main messages from the church today and in history past, is that Jesus has rescued us from sin. Unfortunately we don't always realize the full implications of what that means. We understand "sin" as missing the mark. So if Jesus really has rescued from sin then He has rescued us from missing the mark. There is no reason, ever, to feel a sense of incompleteness or lack. Only because of what Jesus finished at the cross. Out of this place/understanding we can begin to experience His finished work. Great post.

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuke Beling

Thanks so much, Luke: Like you, I'm in favor of anything that helps us experience all that Jesus has for us. Peace to you and Kristy!

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

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