I sat down to read through 2 Peter yesterday. I didn’t get far. I stopped after the second verse.
It wasn’t because of a lack of time, or add, or the commencement of an emergency.
There is a word in verse two that needed some time of pondering and application.
As you read through second Peter verse one is all typical of the opening of an Epistle. In the first verse you learn who is writing the letter and whom they are writing to. And so we learn that Peter is writing a letter to people of faith.
Now the second verse of an Epistle is typically reserved for a greeting of some form. Peter stays true to the script, however he unloads a doozey of a greeting. Some authors go for the ever spiritual: “greetings” Some writers ramp up the holy talk with a phrase like: “Grace and peace.” Peter, never one to be outdone, takes it to the next level in his first letter: “Grace and peace be yours in abundance.” Then in his second letter he outdoes himself:
“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”
That’s where I stopped.
I know God. I think.
I mean, I’ve read all about him. We’ve had some wonderful one-sided conversations. I even work for him.
I think it’s safe to say that I know him.
It’s also safe to say that I know Jesus. I know that Jesus and God are one, so as such if I know one I should know the other. I know that Jesus died for my sins, so I try and make sure that he didn’t have to die for too many. I know that Jesus is preparing a place for me in heaven. I know he loves me.
Is there more to know?
I like to think that I have grace and peace in my life. I certainly have peace because I know that death is not the end for me. Knowing God helps me remember that heaven awaits me when I die. I experience grace in that I’m not getting what my sins deserve. Despite being guilty of breaking the law I’m not going to jail. Thus I have grace and peace through the knowledge of God and of Jesus.
Normally, as I’ve read this letter many times, I skip right over this verse. I kinda check it off as having accomplished it.
Yesterday, however, that word abundantly jumped out at me.
The aforementioned level of grace and peace is so minimal—it is far from an abundant kind of grace and peace.
What would an abundance of grace and peace look like?
Have you seen something burdened by abundance?
I’ve seen ships burdened by an abundance of logs. They seem to be near sinking. There are too many logs to carry. Those ships are bursting with an abundance of logs.
I’ve seen a sponge loaded with an abundance of water. You can’t come into contact with it without getting wet.
I’ve had balloons burst in my face with an abundance of air. The balloon could not contain it all. Air got all over everything.
It’s seems abundance is barely containable if it’s even containable at all.
I’ve seen people bursting with an abundance of joy. You can’t get close to them without them dumping joy all over you. They cannot contain all their joy. You look at a person with an abundance of joy and you know right away that they have joy. It’s obvious to everyone around. As annoying as the joy abundant can be, you never look at them and go: “I bet something’s bothering them.”
Yet people’s first impression of is probably not that I have an abundance of grace and peace. Some days they may wonder if I have any at all.
I do not have an abundance of Grace and Peace.
Yet Peter wants us to have an abundance of both. He wants us to be so bursting with grace that we leak grace all over everyone we meet. We should have such an abundance of peace that when we enter a room peace is everywhere.
Are we exploding at the seams with grace and peace?
Do those who come into contact with us leave dripping with grace and peace?
Is my, or our, grace and peace contained, or is it all over the place?
What would it look like for a church to ooze grace and peace?
What would it look like for the church doors to open after the service on Sunday and have a tsunami of grace and peace hit the neighbourhood changing it forever?
It seems that knowledge of God and of Jesus should produce the abundance of grace and peace I lack. So I’m kinda left concluding that somewhere I’ve missed really knowing God.
Or maybe I’ve only been getting to know God in a past tense. God did this… God did that… What about what God is doing today? What about what God will do tomorrow? What about who God is today and tomorrow?
I'm hoping that as I go through Peter's second letter a little slower than usual, I'll learn something more about God that will help me know him better, and then maybe I'll be bursting with an abundance of grace and peace.