The first sermon I gave for a grade in Preaching class in seminary was on this passage from third chapter of Peter’s second letter.
“Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”2 Peter 3:8-9, The Message
It was one of those passages that I knew that I’d read many times before but for the first time I really, really read it and I heard God speaking through it directly to me in an act of redemption.
In the denomination I grew up in, the time of Jesus’ return, the final judgement of God was used as a method of inciting fear in us to make us ‘behave’. If we didn’t do all the right things now, we’d end up spending eternity in a lake of fire. Time was a test of our ability to be good enough.
As I prepared this sermon for a grade, the fear based, misguided theology of eternity and time of my early years was redeemed. I read these words written in love by Peter, the one who was told by Jesus he’d be the rock of the church and the one who denied knowing Jesus in order to save his own skin, and I experienced not an angry task master but a loving parent who patiently waits while I learn and grow.
Time became a gift to me because I don’t have to use it to prove I’m good enough. God has given us time to learn and grow in relationship with God now, experiencing the abundance of compassionate love and care of God’s righteousness and goodness.
Like Peter, I’ve not always used what I’ve been given to build up God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Like Peter, I sometimes try to tell Jesus the right way to do things because I want the solution now. Like Peter, I know that when I step back on the path, following Jesus into the kingdom I won’t be condemned but loved and redeemed.
God has promised that at the appointed time God will set all things right in a new heaven and a new earth. As we wait, knowing God is always faithful and true, we are given the gift of being God’s people, God’s beloved children, here and now. It’s an amazing time I don’t want to rush through but genuinely experience.
I’m so grateful we are on this learning journey of life in God’s Kingdom together. Thank you for sharing your precious time with me.