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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Before anything else fails

11-13Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we'll hardly notice. We'll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.
(2 Peter 3:11-13)

Peter has spent a great deal of time in this second letter to the New Testament church dealing with the idea of being on alert for false teachers and being sensitive to the Word of God as a measure to evaluate the teaching we receive.  In the second chapter of this book, he brings out the fact that false teachers actually divide the church, pitting one against another, instead of unifying believers in purpose and task.  They slander the truth - making a mockery of the truth contained in the Word of God by twisting it to their own liking.  Their end is not a happy one - they will bear a huge judgment for their part in leading people astray.

He described these false teachers as proud, unthinking animals.  It is almost like referring to them as creatures of instinct - doing what comes naturally to them.  They are quick to criticize, or laugh in unbelief, at those facts they know very little about.  Their life is one of misdirection - and they make no attempt to cover it up.  They promise much - but deliver on very little.  So, why is it that they have so many followers?  Peter is very plain in his explanation - we go after the easiest thing, the thing that promises the quickest reward.  We don't think it through, believing their lies, simply because their boasting creates an allure that caters to the "fleshly" side of our nature.

Now, he points us to the hope we have in Christ.  This hope is developed by stimulating our thinking toward wholesome living.  The world offers all kinds of negative stimulation - Peter's hope is that we will cultivate the kind of thinking that creates a positive focus for us.  In other words, he is telling us to really become students of the Word - so that we can spot the difference between the truth and a clever lure.  This type of familiarity with the Word of God is not found in weekly attendance at a local church meeting, hearing one sermon a week, and hoping that will give us what we need to make it through the week. It is something that is cultivated by frequent and consistent intake of the Word.

We only come to a place of living with excited expectation for the return of the Lord when we fully embrace the idea of relationship with Christ.  Relationship is investment - time, energy and talent.  When we are engaged in this type of active relationship, there is an excitement that wells us, drives us forward and keeps us coming back for more.  The idea is that we need to "live ready" - for the next challenge, the next opportunity, the next turn of events.  We are most ready when we are finding our source for readiness in Christ alone!  When we really begin to "tune into" what he has for us in his Word, we begin to live in such a way that we avoid error - we don't make the same mistakes over and over again.  We recognize error and move away from it, instead of being lured into it.

I've spent a lot of time this week focusing on the importance of the Word of God - as our guidebook for life, our standards of behavior, and our hope for every need.  It truly is the "owner's manual" for solid living.  You've probably heard it said, "When all else fails, read the directions!"  I'd like to challenge us to learn to say, "Before anything else fails, let's read the directions!"