Responsible in some way for the second-generation followers of Jesus, the author of Second Peter seems worried about them. Since Jesus’ death, his return has been believed to be imminent. But as years have passed and the resurrected Christ hasn’t come back, his followers’ fear of final judgment and hope of everlasting life has lessened. Strong anticipation of the Second Coming once kept believers on the straight and narrow. Now those who hadn’t benefited from knowing Jesus in the flesh are straying from the good news and returning to sinful ways, influenced by “scoffers” who ridicule their belief. One can almost hear the author of Second Peter thinking, How can I convince them to hang in there?
He addresses clearly and firmly the subject of timing. He reminds all Christians that God’s time and human time are entirely different. In God’s time one day is like a thousand years and a thousand days are like one day. He warns us not to be upset by how long Christ’s return is taking because God is patient and does not want any to perish. On the other hand, Christ could arrive at any moment, so the author encourages Christians to use whatever time we have to grow in holiness and godliness.
We live in an increasingly time-obsessed, fast-paced culture. We demand things on time and fear not having enough time. If computers aren’t fast enough, we’re agitated. If someone interferes with our tightly-budgeted time line, we’re inhospitable to them. Road rage is increasing. Even today we need to be reminded that God’s time is different from ours. Preoccupation with time affects our spiritual lives just as negatively as concern about the lateness of the parousia affects the early followers: We are straying from the gospel’s call to peacefulness and loving behavior.
God, please help us now—Oops! Correct that—please help us in your own time. Amen.
Prepare the way of the Lord! This is the theme for the second week of Advent. Isaiah cries out from the wilderness that the people should prepare for the arrival of the Lord. This will be met with shouts of praise and rejoicing. The psalmist tells his audience to prepare the way of the Lord by living rightly, namely by showing love and faithfulness to each other. Second Peter restates that we do not know the day of the Lord’s ultimate return, but we know that the delay is a result of God’s patience and desire for all to come to repentance. Matthew opens his Gospel with a quotation from this week’s Isaiah passage. Here John the Baptist is presented as the one preparing the way of the Lord.
Read Isaiah 40:1-11. When have you profoundly experienced God’s guidance or protection? How did this experience change you?
Read Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13. Consider the author’s questions. How can you and your faith community return to God to “dwell in God’s land”?
Read 2 Peter 3:8-15a. How might considering God’s time alter your perspective on your daily rush and prompt you toward a greater experience of peace?
Read Mark 1:1-8. When have you reached a spiritual dead end? How did the working of the Holy Spirit help you turn around or move forward in a new way?
Respond by posting a prayer.