An interesting discussion at my job site this week: Clinton sometimes seems to be the inevitable nominee for the Democratic party, promising to promote abortion, homosexuality, rule-by-fiat rather than by working with congress. The egomaniac Trump looks poised to be the Republican nominee if he can survive the caucus in Iowa even though he boycotted the last Republican debate and made the other guys appear more “presidential”; does he think the new world that Obama forced on us with his eight-year “Apology Tour” will treat him nicer than the debate commentators?
ISIS continues to attract thousands of “foreigners” into its ranks, to promote a harsh legalistic and terribly arbitrary perversion of Islam (though many of the “foreigners” are first-generation nationals of their various countries: the U.S., Canada, England, Belgium, France and others; mostly they are Mid-easterners heading back home). Knife-wielding thugs have murdered several New Yorkers in recent weeks, eerily similar to the stabbings of civilians in Israel. Though not related to nor reported as fundamentalist stabbings like the ones in Israel, is it not likely the Hamas and Hezbollah invitation to stab those who disagree with them plays into the thinking?
Christians of all stripes, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Evangelical, and Liberal, are attacked without recourse in many nations of the world, and why? Because of fomenting revolts against the existing government? Because of murdering those who disagree with their message? Because of trying to enforce draconian laws against publicly preferred behavior? NO! Most are in other nations to help; to administer medical care, bolster businesses, provide family counseling, or deliver food; to demonstrate that God loves us all.
So our discussion turned to the question of the title: given world events are out of our control; given that our nation seems poised to elect a “tyrant-in-chief”; given that more Christians are being martyred than at any previous time in history, what kind of people ought we to be?
Peter saw this future, even through the prism of persecution of first century Christ-followers (2 Peter 3). “First of all, you must understand . . . ” and then he proceeds to describe Darwinian evolution and its denial of the Great Flood of Noah’s day. “They will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” You see, we mortals are very short-sighted. When I experience joy, I think all the world is a wonderful place; when I suffer, I think everything in the universe is against me. It is very difficult for us to look beyond our own backyard and to see before or after our own lifespans. We are so self-centered, unless we are “interrupted” by Someone as selfless as Jesus, we think that we are each the center of the cosmos.
But Peter reminds his readers, and I pass his reminder on to you, that The God Who Is There has a lot bigger perspective. He is filled with a lot more love than you and I, and is patiently waiting in anticipation that others will come into His light and trust Him to give them eternal life. His “days” can span thousands of years, but the Day will come when all this universe will be folded up like a used robe (Hebrews 1:10-12) and a new heavens and a new earth will be put in place for us, one in which we will live forever.
So then Peter asks this important question: “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?” The world will turn darker and darker. The freedoms many Americans grew up with and have taken for granted may disappear as quickly as a vote in congress. Evil will flourish and people will think they are serving God by killing us (Jesus’ prophecy in John 16:2). And he answers with four instructions:
1. We are live holy and godly lives as we look forward to the Day and speed its coming.
2. We are to make every effort to be spotless, blameless, and at peace with Him.
3. We are to be on our guard so we will not be deceived by the error of lawlessness.
4. We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Each of these instructions could be expanded into its own blog, but you have a connection with Father, and can develop your own theology of how to live holy, how to accelerate His coming, how to find peace with Him, how to love the truth and avoid error, and how to grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus, our Savior.
So live as Jesus taught us by example and instruction, especially in his “finis coronat opus” that begins in John 13 and ends in John 17. Here, if there is any question in your mind, is the most complete answer to Peter’s question, “What kind of people ought we to be?” There is no call to arms nor anger nor hatred in his final words. There is no political party nor conservative or liberal view espoused. There is no governmental nor organizational structure recommended.
There is only this: The Way/Truth/Life telling His disciples to live with eternity in view, with love as a central theme to balance what His followers knew of Father’s holiness, anticipation of joy and peace that would accompany us throughout life until we see Him face to face, and confidence that He is in charge even if appearances seem to deny it. Then He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to let Judas betray Him and hand Him over to the gentiles for crucifixion. This is how we should live.