When I first began to explore this strange thing of discernment, this inclination to have God take over my life, one of my most challenging questions was, “How do I blend the secular world and my spiritual world?”
One answer was, “Oh, you can’t. Just fill up as much as you can on Sunday and hope it lasts the whole week long.”
A friend of mine has a bumper sticker on her car. It states, “There is no secular world.” Just as simple as that.
The author of 2 Peter asks questions as we delve more deeply into Advent.
What sort of people should we be? How do our lives reflect holiness and godliness? Do we live our lives as though we are not only waiting for but working for the coming of the day of God? …Knowing…knowing that at that coming…on that day…the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved…and in that promise, we wait for a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness is at home…
…so how do we live our lives…IF we really believe that as truth…
Of course, that is exactly what the author of 2 Peter is speaking to…the worry that Christ had still not come even though he himself had said that he would return before that generation had died off. It was a difficult time for some to continue to believe that God was going to fulfill the promise that creation would be renewed and that evil would be destroyed and righteousness would at last have a home within that renewal.
But what is righteousness? In the times of the Hebrew Scriptures, Righteousness was the status for the one found to be justified by the court – the one in whose favor the court found.
God’s righteousness was invoked by covenant – God was expected to deliver the people even as God judged those people. God also waited before judging, granting time for the people to repent, then restoring the fortunes of the people and by continuing to renew the covenant between God and the people.
So there were two settings for righteousness – the law court and the covenant. To have righteousness meant to belong to the covenant community, bound by the Torah, and the hope of which was God.
In the New Testament, Paul stresses that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ showed that God continued to show righteousness – God kept the covenant of Abraham, dealt properly with sin, showed no partiality and upheld all those who cast themselves upon God’s mercy. As believers in the Gospel, we are a part of that covenant community bound by the same things.
As God is creator and judge of all the earth and as God’s people, we are to reflect God’s own character. We have to see the justice which God desires and designs for the world, and that the church is to be an example of God’s intended new humanity, and the establishment of world-wide justice.
Sometimes, individualism and the idea that church and the world are separate can make justice an abstract value. I saw a bumper sticker that states, “there is no secular world” and I agree with that. And did you know – in the Bible, the word justice is mentioned twice as much as the word love…and seven times more than the word hell.
The author of 2 Peter reminds us that as we await these new things promised, regardless of how long it takes, we are to remember that we must strive to be a reflection of God’s own character, not our own. Our own ways can lead us away from those things God desires and designs. Without a focus on God’s desire, we lose our stability. Our righteousness comes from God alone.
As I go more deeply into this time of waiting, watching and preparing, I want to hold close these questions:
What sort of person should I be? How does my life reflect holiness and godliness? Do I live my life as though I am not only waiting for but working for the coming of the day of God?
…Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.