Last week I received a missionary prayer letter from some very good friends of mine. They shared the following biblical encouragement that is excellently timed in light of events going on in today’s world. I hope you will be challenged, as I am, by their words. (They requested that their identity remain anonymous.)
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 2 Peter 3:14
Most of the New Testament exhortations to become “like Christ” or to “purse godliness” only make sense if we are looking forward to the “this” Peter refers to here in the third chapter of his second letter. What is the “this”? From the previous verse it is the “new heaven and the new earth, the home of righteousness.” How much are we really focused on our future home in the world to come, while we live day-to-day in this world? Are we trying to make our temporal lives more pleasant and exciting here, or are we looking forward to the next life? Peter just reminded his readers that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief, … the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” But that’s no big deal for us, because we are looking forward to Jesus’ return.
This idea of looking forward is expressed in C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity:
If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this one.”
This exhortation encourages us to increase our effectiveness in this world, by focusing more on the next.
Most American presidents have regularly issued national day of prayer proclamations. Following in this tradition, President Obama proclaimed May 3, 2012 as a National Day of Prayer. I wonder what God thinks of America’s National Day of Prayer? I wonder what he thinks of where I place my affections?
This week I have been reading through the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. In chapter 12 it is recorded that the ten tribes in the north rebelled against Solomon’s son and David’s grandson, Rehoboam, because of his heavy handed, authoritarian leadership. Rehoboam demanded more from the people than they could or were willing to give. The people revolted. God said that the revolt was his doing. He punished the House of David because of Solomon’s idolatry. Even after God’s punishment, Judah, the tribe loyal to Rehoboam, continued in its idolatry. This continued to greatly displeased God.
At the same time, the newly launched northern kingdom of Israel also engaged in idolatry. King Jeroboam set up idols for the people to worship so they would not have to travel into Judah’s territory to worship God in Jerusalem. Israel’s idolatry also greatly displeased God.
The Lord God refuses to share his glory with anyone or anything. When people put their love and trust in anything other than God, they steal from God. Honoring someone or something else, robs God of the honor he deserves.
I have used this week of the National Day of Prayer to evaluate what I honor. Do I honor God above everything else? Am I stealing his glory by loving and trusting someone/something else? It is clear in 1 Kings and throughout Scripture that the consequences of idolatry are devastating.
I have received so much from God, I want to faithfully love, serve, and honor him in return.