One of the most concise and beautiful teachings about God is in John. He plainly states some awesome things, full of impact and depth.
“The Word existed in the beginning…” This, along with other statements made in this context, highlights how tragic it is that the world systemically rejects him. There was only a “beginning” because of him.
“…the Word existed with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God, who created everything through Him. Nothing that exists was created without Him.” God took a demotion to save us (Heb. 2.9). The same one who used the Father’s power to fabricate reality.
“Life came from Him…” Humans only had the power to take life away from the source of life because He let them.
“…and this life was humanity’s light.” His selflessness gave us hope for a better existence.
“This light shined through the darkness, and darkness can’t smother it.” Evil is on borrowed time and it knows it. Jesus put a countdown on the existence of evil. When its time runs out, it’ll never bother His people again (II Pet. 3.13; Rev. 20.12-15).
We deal with real problems thanks to darkness. What Jesus did wasn’t just a nice gesture. He destroyed the very possibility of darkness, creating a reality in which His own – made eternally perfect through His sacrifice – can never mess things up again. I want to live in that kind of reality with that kind of God.
When it comes to the families that make up the church, what ties us together is a common bright future. While every family has its differences, one constant remains— the church. All strive to follow those guidelines laid out in scripture. Paul says in Philippians 1:6, “And I’m SURE of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
The writer speaks with assurance, and that confidence is well-placed. From “His-story” we see that God always completes His projects. He never dreams; He creates. He decided to create the world and here it is. He decided to save the world, and here we are.
Paul also would write in Romans 7-8 that the flesh tends to get in the way of the spiritual. God is perfect, but we’re not. That’s what makes us a work in progress. Aren’t we thankful that God provides the solutions to “fix” us up?
We’re involved in a great work because there simply is no better work than what is being done by His church. That being said, many of us struggle with overcomplicating things. We try to make sense of our individual lives, and when we leave God out it all becomes a discouraging battle. Where’s the peace? Joy? Confidence? Maybe it was left behind when we left God’s path. Thankfully God came down to earth years ago to teach us everything we need to know. We see that in His interactions with people. Even His twelve original followers were an odd group.
Each had a diverse background. Some were Fishermen and some tax collectors.
Each one had a unique personality too! They ranged from timid to assertive.
Each one had spiritual battles from greed to crippling doubt.
Yet each one rallied under His leadership and were united through a common hope.
What’s changed? Not much.
The personalities, talents, backgrounds, and flaws mixed together create a unique blend that make up each one of us. Yet, here we are rallied under His leadership, united in common hope.
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.” – 2 Peter 3:18
Peter writes this letter knowing that he’s going to die soon (2 Peter 1:14), and he wants the church to remember his teachings after he’s gone (1:15). This illustrates how deeply invested Peter was in the church’s success:
He had been on the ground floor of Jesus’s ministry, literally walking off the job site, leaving everything behind, to become a fisher of men
He had seen the crucifixion, the empty tomb, and the pierced side of his resurrected savior
He had helped the church grow from 120 to untold thousands covering the entire known world in one generation
And now Peter realizes that he’s soon going to be gone and the church will not have the direct guidance of the apostles but instead will need their indirect guidance through the New Testament writings. What are the last words of this apostle, his final thoughts for the church that he loved so dearly, which continue to echo down to us today as the spiritual successors of those first-century Christians?
Always keep growing!
First, he asks us to grow in the grace of Christ. When we obey the gospel, our sins are completely forgiven; God forgets them; we are “saved to the uttermost,” according to Hebrews 7:25, and when we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sins (1 John 1:7). So how can we grow in something that is complete?
I think a key is found in 2 Cor. 12:7-9. Paul has been given this thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan, to torment him, and he prays three times that the Lord will take it away. But God tells Paul that His grace is sufficient. It was enough that Paul was a Christian; Paul did not need any particular problem taken away; God’s grace sufficed.
Likewise, no matter what we face in this life, it really doesn’t matter if we’re a Christian.God’s grace is enough. It takes effort and maturity, though, to gain this perspective. We need to keep growing in the grace of Christ!
Second, Peter asks us to grow in the knowledge of Christ. This is an easier interpretation: We must go to The Book! In my experience, and from what I’ve observed in others, those who grow as Christians are those who study the Bible on their own, digging in to see for themselves what God says. The preacher who baptized me told me one time that, in addition to his other study, he read a chapter a day from Proverbs and the gospels because he wanted to remain connected to the wisdom of God and the heart of Jesus; this is the attitude of someone who, know matter how much they know about the Bible, is still striving to grow in the knowledge of Christ.
May we all have this desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It was the late ’70s and I was spending the night with my best friends, Patrick and Jody Smith. We had just finished watching The Bionic Man on TV, and there was a special on Muhammad Ali. I can still remember his banter with Howard Cosell and the gifted boxer looking at the camera and saying, “I-am-the-greatest!”
“Who is the greatest?” is a burning question in men’s minds. We want to know who’s the greatest. Whatever the profession, endeavor, or skill, there are folks vying for the top spot. People once immortalized for feats and accomplishments, like Tom Courtney, Neil Armstrong, George Washington, Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale, or Muhammad Ali, fuel future competitors to meet and exceed their successes.
The disciples wanted Jesus to tell them, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matt. 18:1). On a journey to Capernaum, they argued among themselves about who was the greatest (Mk. 9:34). Here were twelve men who were selected by Christ to have a part in the greatest work on earth. That was honor and purpose enough, but they wanted more. If that was good, being the best of the best was better. Such thinking was way off base, which Jesus repeatedly demonstrated through His humility, sacrifice, and service for the good of others.
Today, we wrestle with the same affliction. Whether in our daily lives or even within our function in the church, we can get caught up in being recognized as the best. This is a destructive exercise and misses the point. If we are Christians, we are among God’s chosen on this earth. What a privilege! We have the highest, most important business to do. Let us do our best and work our hardest, but let us never get caught in the trap of showing others that we are the best. The very attempts disqualify us.