Add To Your Faith…
Having just finished the morning sermon series on 2 Timothy, we are going to tackle the letter of 2 Peter over the summer months. Here is Greg’s description and thinking behind this:
Following hard on our recent sermon series on Paul’s final letter called 2 Timothy, I feel urged to explore another short epistle by the man Paul once called a ‘pillar’ Apostle (Gal. 2:8-9) – ‘The Big Fisherman’ apostle to the Jews, Simon Peter. Interestingly, this is also Peter’s last letter, most likely written just before his own martyrdom, crucified upside down at his own request in Rome. This killing was a direct result of the rumours Emperor Nero circulated to shift the blame for his own arson in torching the poorer dwellings of Rome to make way for a grand white marble re-development to boost his ego. Subsequent riots targeted innocent Christians in the capital, who were slandered as ‘enemies of all mankind’.
Other widespread false charges included accusations of ‘incest’, ‘atheism’, and ‘kill-joy party-pooping’. Why? (1) Incest – as secret Chrisian ‘love feasts’ in the catacombs raised suspicions of incest as ‘brothers and sisters’ met together for ‘fellowship’. (2) Atheism seemed right too, due to Christian resistance to false gods and idolatrous Emperor worship. (3) Party-pooping Killjoys because of their criticism of and abstention from attending the violent and bloody gladiatorial games in the Coliseum. Christians even rescued abandoned baby girls from being eaten by dogs on Roman hillsides, thus shaming those who had ‘trashed’ newborns as worthless! Such counter-cultural Christianity is much needed today, and will be just as provocative.
Ordinary contemporaries then, regarded this new ‘barmy religious cult’ with its crucified Messiah and rumours of resurrections, with a mixture of puzzlement, admiration, and contempt as a mystified citizenry knew not what to make of mid-60’s first century Christianity with its growing positive yet subversive influence on the lives of 1,000’s of people. This, of course, strongly resembles the reactions vibrant churches, vocal believers, and bold preachers receive today from neo-pagan, sex-soaked, cynical and satirical Brits, who’ve forgotten their spiritual inheritance and become wilfully ignorant of where our nation’s past greatness and astonishing liberties came from in the first place – the Christian gospel!
This timely letter of 2 Peter has therefore lost none its power to speak afresh into current situations of intimidation, widespread cowardice, inertia, and resignation to the status quo of philosophical error and wrong-headedness, that contemporary Christians flirt with. We all need to hear words that fortify us and keep us loyal to Christ. Peter’s ‘fighting talk’, coming from one of God’s greatest generals, lists all the divine resources God supplies, and describes secret battle-plans God has for our growth in Christian character and mature thinking. It’s therefore possible for us all to ‘man-up’ and face head-on the challenges of our time and place also.
Peter urges us to refuse to play-dead, run scared, or be stopped in our tracks by error or negative criticism from ageing atheists or blinkered intellectuals who refuse to explore all the true facts. Instead, we’re to be fully-equipped for the fight, discerning our top priorities as effective Christians to whom this Apostle and veteran writes, recalling that Peter knew first-hand what it was to backslide, deny Jesus, run scared, and lose the plot himself – then recover his faith once again along with his ‘true form’ spiritually speaking.
It’s time to for us all to get down to the gym and put on some spiritual muscle! And who better to offer us the sound coaching we need than Peter?
It’s time for all of Peter’s hearers to ‘ADD TO YOUR FAITH’!