Why are we waiting?
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
2 Peter 3:9 (ESV)
My mother-in-law is on her second ‘last car’. On purchasing the first one she declared, ‘This ought to see me out.’ But after 10 years or so, the car was becoming unreliable so she traded it in for a new one and as she drove away, said to herself, ‘Well this one will surely see me out.’ So far, her promise to herself has not been fulfilled. You can’t help feeling that her desire to live a long and happy life is marginally outweighed by the hope that she doesn’t have to shell out on a third ‘last car’. That’s Scots for you.
As a faithful Christian, however, one thing she doesn’t stress about is whether or when Jesus is going to return. She understands that God always keeps his promises, but also that his timing is so much better than ours. His coming will never be a surprise to those who have a close relationship with Jesus, and are always ready for his return.
So what about the rather strange words in our header scripture above? ‘The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’ What is Peter trying to tell us here? That God, in his mercy, is giving people more time to repent, more opportunity to come into relationship with himself. We know from John 3:17, and other verses, that God desires to save the whole world. Yet because he gave us all free will, he will never force us to turn to him.
Peter continues in verses 11-12: ‘…what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God…’. However, ‘waiting for’ and ‘hastening’ – aren’t those two instructions contradictory? Well here’s an interesting way of looking at it – we wait, as God patiently and mercifully waits for ‘not-yet’ Christians to respond. And we hasten the Lord’s coming by going about our Father’s business, by making disciples! As David Pawson puts it in his commentary on 1 and 2 Peter, ‘The more the church gets on with its job of winning the lost, the nearer that day can come.’
I marvel that God graciously allows us to participate with him in his work of saving the world through his Son. But how motivating it is to consider that in so doing, we could perhaps be hastening the day of our Lord’s return!
Almighty Father, we thank you for your great patience, mercy and love, demonstrated in your ‘not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.’ Help us to do everything in our power to reach out to the lost, waiting for, and hastening the coming of your king. In Jesus’s name. Amen.
Study by Peter Mill
About the writer:
Peter Mill is a minister in Grace Communion International and Co-Regional Pastor for Scotland, Ireland, and Northern England.
Grace Communion International Central Glasgow
St Andrews West
260 Bath Street
Sunday 11:15 am
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