Friday, June 11, 2010

Keeping It Real, Keeping It Alive

The second of Peter's three epistles is a very interesting letter to study. It has the tinge of the flavour of an old man's letter; an old man who is expecting not to be around for much longer. In this morning's passage, 2 Peter 1:12-21, he mentions three things that reveal his heart and should touch ours at the same time. I find that we get a good insight into Peter and his motivation for doing what he did. We should all understand our motivation and maybe today you will understand yours a bit better.

Sometimes when we are older we begin to lose our motivation, our purpose for living. We begin to take on an attitude that we are just waiting for death, we are putting in our time. We get up in the morning, we dress, we eat, we putter around, we go to bed. Perhaps it is not that our motivation is gone but we have not yet realized that it needs to be adjusted. Peter's motivation seemed clear enough to him:

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. (2 Peter 1:12-15)

Peter's desire was to insure that people would not forget what he had witnessed, what he had testified to, what he had taught about Jesus. There is such a heavy sense of importance to this and a bit of urgency as Peter had a sense that he did not have much longer to do this. When we think we have a lifetime to accomplish goals we do not have a great deal of motivation to accomplish them, but when time is short they suddenly become a lot clearer to us. What would happen to our goals, purpose and motivation if we lived our lives with the attitude that today is the last day? I think we would not take people for granted, we would love deeper and longer, we would set aside the trivial in our lives and promote those things that are important to us. I think Jesus' mission for us would suddenly take on a great deal more importance, maybe a sense of urgency as Peter felt, especially with those we love.

Peter writes here as one who writes about memories they are still living. As we read this I get the impression that his memories of Jesus were as clear that day as if he just experienced them yesterday:

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain. (2 Peter 1:16-18)

Believe it or not, many people lose their faith as they get older. Memories fade, convictions hide away, life just becomes about sleeping and eating. It is sad to see people who were so on fire for the Lord slowly fading away with their memories. Perhaps you feel tinges of this already nipping away at the edges of your motivation. We need to do as Peter did, keep the experience alive and well. We need to remind ourselves every day of the great things God has done, of the many talks we have had with Jesus, of our testimony. Write them down in a book before they fade away so we may be reminded. Better yet, never allow yourself to be in a place that you are no longer creating new memories. Sometimes we need to use old memories as a primer to experience God today. Whatever it takes, do not let the relationship or experience fade.

The final point I want to make from this passage is Peter's understanding of purpose. Purpose goes a long way in providing motivation in our life. Sometimes we get to the place where we believe we have to create our own purpose and this puts us on thin ice as far as our relationship with God goes. Peter understood how it worked:

Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20-21)

We need to maintain the attitude that we are only God's workman. The ideas, the goals, the plans, the purpose all belong to him. We do not need to make anything happen, we only need to listen and obey. What happens with it does not belong to us and we are not accountable for how people respond to it. These things that we are given to do are not born of us but are given by God. This makes the burdens of Jesus as light as what he promised they would be. Disappointment and disillusionment only come when we think it all depends on us. Try to imagine everything Peter had witnessed, the betrayals he had experienced, the heartache he had faced. Yet, nothing took away from his experience and loyalty with Jesus. I believe from what he has written here that Peter knew his place, was glad for it but avoided believing it all rested on him.

Please understand the dangers that exist with time. You need to keep working at your salvation daily, keeping your relationship with Jesus vivid and alive. You need to see yourself as a workman with a purpose until your very last breath. You need to work at the mission with a sense of urgency, never giving up. And you need to let God be God. Do not take on what does not belong to you and remember you are not responsible for the reaction of other people to the good news that Jesus died for them. Check your motivation for living and serving my friend, and allow it to be adjusted as the Spirit guides you along the path set before you.

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