What are you going to be when you grow up? It is a common question and in the right circumstances a perfectly good question. However, when considering our walk with Christ it misses the mark because it focuses on vocation instead of character. Our journey with Christ is not focused on doing something but on being someone. Who are you going to be when you grow up? Paul refers to the goal of our journey as becoming conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29. Peter reminds us that we have been given the precious promises so that we may be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). Accepting Christ, becoming born again into God’s family, is the start of a journey towards Christlikeness. While our entrance into God’s kingdom was totally a work of Christ, there is an “Our Part” to the covenant of grace that follows.
For the next several articles I intend to examine “Our Part” as expressed in Peter’s second letter. “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5–8, NASB95) Peter identifies a progression that begins with moral excellence and concludes with love. The promise Peter offers is “if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” However, like any journey, there are a few prerequisites.
A Relationship of Faith. Peter addresses his letter to “those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1, NASB95) While it is possible to follow Peter’s pattern without faith in Christ it is fruitless to do so. All of the character traits listed by Peter are good things to have. But, what’s the point if the only purpose is to play well with others? This journey is not only about being a good person but becoming a fruitful and useful participant in God’s kingdom in the here and now.
Diligence. Sometimes in sports, you’ll hear these phrases. He brought his A Game. She left it all out on the court. He gave it 110 percent. Basically, the thought is the same, every possible effort was expended to win the game. Peter’s encouragement is to give this journey everything you have. Don’t simply spectate or half-heartedly go along but fully invest yourself in the journey ahead. I recall an Olympic event where the runner in a long distance event came up lame and painfully hobbled the last lap. Instead of quitting they did everything they could to complete the race. That’s the kind of diligence Peter is asking us to apply.
The Journey. Over the next few articles, we’ll look at each step of Peter’s prescribed path beginning with moral excellence.