The United States of America has one of the most powerful militaries on earth. Its funding, equipment, and training are second to none. Most countries understand that head-on attacks against the US armed forces are impossible – even our greatest enemies have a healthy fear. That said, asymmetric warfare has thwarted even our great military. Hostile groups with long-obsolete, repurposed equipment have made decisive victory nearly impossible.
Their tactics often involve war crimes/crimes against humanity, so these groups serve as an illustration of a point and nothing more. They will answer to God for their crimes. The point is this: God often displays great power through insignificant, weak people.
God worked through Paul’s weakness to grow the church (II Cor 12.9). God saved the world as an impoverished person (Matt 8.20). God designated the poor to great faith and eternal life (Js 2.5). God included uneducated, blue-collar men in his group of closest followers (Acts 4.13). God considers service-oriented people to be the most important (Matt 20.26). God used Job as an example of endurance, proving his power when Job was at his lowest (1.9, 22).
All of us will face issues that are way beyond our power to handle. In those moments, remember that God does incredible things through insignificant people.
“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.