“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust (evil desires).” (2 Peter 1:2-4 –NAS)
“Christianity is not merely a philosophical theory or a moral code, but involves a direct sharing in divine life and glory, a transforming union with God “face to face”. Kallistros Ware
It is no news headline that we live in a world which generates toxic levels of anxiety and unrest. Political upheaval in Ukraine and the Middle East, unemployment, gang and domestic violence, relative morality, polarization of ideas, relational tensions, internal conflicts and mankind’s general bend toward self-centeredness all place an external pressure on us that leads to fret and fear. While every generation, country, family and individual face their own unique strains and burdens, what we share in common is that life is filled with a weight far beyond our ability to endure. As this is true in life, so it is in marriage.
So, must I live under this weight and strain – just to somehow endure it? How can I possibly overcome the heaviness of it all and not allow it to crush me? Knowing that I will rarely be able to control the externals surrounding me, I must find a way to be stronger inside than the vortex of evil, conflict and division without. This search leads me to find rest in this great text in 2 Peter.
The Apostle prays God’s “grace and peace” be ours in multiplying abundance; to have it in full measure as we grow in knowing Him intimately. The term for knowledge here has the idea of a “precise” knowing. With this connotation it would be easy for us to limit this precision to having a strict understanding of doctrine. This stance would be to grossly misunderstand the intention here. How many people do you know who have an above average understanding of the Scriptures yet grace and peace seem to be far from them? The precision spoken here refers to a deep knowing of Jesus that allows Him to precisely apply Himself to the places of unrest within us all. We have come to know Him so intimately that our souls and behavior are reflectors of having been stationed at His feet.
Okay Mark, that’s nice but how do we become more intimate with Him so as to actually see and feel this grace and peace? What most of us are guilty of at this point is placing our focus on trying to increase our practice of external disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, fasting, church attendance and the like. These are all good – even great – practices, but how many of us have been frustrated in the cycle of trying harder to know about God only to fall back into our old patterns of self-interest? What if we are striving for something we already have? In most other situations we’d call that stupid, right?
Look at what Peter says more carefully. We can have grace and peace and an intimate union with Jesus since “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness”. I especially like how this translation puts it: “… seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything….” It causes me to stop and gaze at the reality of what God has done in me – in us – through Jesus. Grace and peace and this union are not conjured up by my own spiritual sweat but are to be received as something He has already accomplished. It sounds too good to be true, but that is what it says. God, by His very excellent nature has given us EVERYTHING we need for living life to the full and to do so in His very likeness. That’s what it says!
By His own glorious and brilliant nature He has granted to us His most costly and stunning promises so that by them we may partake in the very same nature that is descriptive of Himself. What an astronomical shift this is from our sinful human state! Through Jesus we have been transferred from a core nature defined by absolute darkness into one of being granted the right to be called the sons and daughters of God; companions in the holy character of God – and that is what we are! (John 1: 12-13; Colossians 1:13; 1 John 3:1)
As a result I now have the option of loving Robyn at a whole new level. It is no longer a love defined by what I may get in return or calculated by what the risk is to my safety. This kind of “love” is found in the old Mark. But as a shareholder in the nature of the Holy One I have been empowered to lavish on her a tenderness that is wholly holy .
Think of the implications.
I now have at my disposal the authority of the Creator to keep my mouth shut instead of defending myself; to believe the best of Robyn versus questioning her motivations; to be intentional about treating her as the royalty she is – a fellow heir in this “gracious gift of life”. Because my identity is now baptized in the supernatural character of God I can serve her without keeping score; look for ways that please her and watch endless re-runs of Gilmore Girls (see I told you guys this was supernatural)!
I have so many regrets when it comes to not living out the reality of my new identity. The facts are that in this life there is a battle being waged to prevent me from living out the truth God has preordained for my life. But I know now that holy behavior cannot be generated by my own efforts toward holiness. That work has already been done. Now it is a matter of daily asking Jesus to release in me – in us – the fruit of the Spirit that is already at the core of who we are.
Jesus, we praise You for your indescribable gift given to us as we have entrusted ourselves to Your ultimate gift of love. There is so much more You have passed onto us than mere forgiveness of sin. You have changed our very essence. Jesus, you told us that we “are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Today, will You refresh these great truths in our lives and cause us to live them in the living rooms of our homes and hearts. Yes Jesus, Amen.