Relevant Biblical Passages: 2 Peter 3:3-15
Hope and “The Delay”: Part 2. In Romans 5:5 Paul declares that “hope does not disappoint us.” Yet Christians have been living with disappointed hope for centuries, indeed for two millennia now. Our study this week continues consideration of the apparent “delay.”
2 Peter 3:3-4: Beware of the scoffers. Even in the New Testament era, scoffers were prepared to point out that the kind of divine intervention which Christians expected simply is not a part of life in this world. From a “naturalistic” point of view, the scoffers are quite right – all things continue as they have been. But that’s the way it was before Noah’s flood, too. So how does a Christian deal with the scoffers “out there”? What about the doubters “in here” who might we tempted to think that the scoffers are right and are frightened that their faith might come to nothing? How does one counter doubt? In the same way as one counters mockery?
The passage in 2 Peter presents the following points that are worth discussing:
- Time makes no difference with God. True. But it makes a great deal of difference to us. Should it? Should we seek to order our lives so that our way of living the Christian life is unaffected by the events of any given day? That may be easier to accept in the case of disasters and temptations. But when the good promises of God seem to fall short of expectations, should we simply keep on keeping on? How does one do that?
- God is not slow, just patient. Peter puts a positive spin on the delay: We have more time to get ready. For what kind of people would such a message to good news? For whom would it likely be at least a minor disappointment?
- Beware! Live right. Peter doesn’t seem to hesitate in using a touch a fear as a warning to the righteous to keep their lives in order. To what extent should pastors, teachers, parents be willing to appeal to fear as a motivation for right living?
- Hastening the coming of the Day of God. Peter has already told us that time makes no difference with God. Why then and how can we “hasten” the coming of the Day of God? Could this verse lead to a dangerous, and frenzied perfectionism?
Our modern world seems to be more and more affected by “naturalistic” arguments. Many good people are reluctant to recognize answered prayer, for example, because it would not seem “fair” for God to intervene in the lives of some but not in the lives of others. How does one counter this pervasive “naturalism” which threatens to move us into a kind of deism where God simply is not involved in our daily lives? And if he is not involved in our daily lives, why should he come to restore the world?