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.”