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Faith Bloopers | Christian Living

Life after Faith

Christina Walker

Monday, July 20, 2015

“To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:  Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.”  2 Peter 1:1-2

Peter’s greeting to the early church has reached through the eons of time to welcome and include each of us in his blessing.  So grace and peace be to each of you!  And may this come through an abundance of knowledge of the one who loves you!

This week, I hope to explore 2 Peter 1:3-10 more in depth.  But first let me ask you: Have you ever tried to learn to play an instrument?  As a young teenager, I studied the violin.  Beginning in 6th grade, the first time I was able to make it through “Row Row Row your Boat” without messing up, I thought I was a violinist!  The best there ever was!!  AND EVER WOULD BE!!! I imagined myself playing spectacular pieces in front of a large audience of finely dressed ladies and gentlemen.  And I was a violinist… technically... to a degree.  I had learned to hold the violin and bow correctly.  I was able to read music notes and place my fingers on the strings in the right place.

But if you were to ask my parents, sisters, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends who were forced to sit through my playing, I was FAR from the ideal violinist that I imagined myself to be.  I wouldn’t be surprised if my parents had bought earplugs the same week I began my lessons!  I met the minimal requirements for being considered a violinist.  There was still A LOT of room for growth as a musician.  And that’s ok, because I was just a beginner.  But imagine if I still squeaked my way slowly through Mary Had a Little Lamb four years later as a Freshman!  The orchestra kids would have laughed me out of the room!  I practiced, worked hard, sometimes cried, built up callouses on my fingers, spent hours re-playing the same measures over and over to new songs.  I watched videos of other violinists.  Listened to orchestra music.  And slowly (VERY slowly), I improved.

This process is the same process that The Rock is talking about in the first chapter of 2 Peter.  He writes:

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness;

and to goodness, knowledge;

and to knowledge, self-control;

and to self-control, perseverance;

and to perseverance, godliness;

and to godliness, mutual affection;

and to mutual affection, love.”  

2 Peter 1:5-7 TNIV

This passage humbles me beyond belief.  Because I’ve always thought that faith was where you stopped.  It was the end goal, to have faith in Christ.  To believe in His love and power and mercy.  And it is.  Faith in Christ Jesus is the ONLY way to God.  But once we come to faith in Him, we cannot stop there!  There’s no wiping your hands, sitting down, throwing your feet on the table, and leaning back!  You’re not done yet, God is just getting started.  It’s through faith, through the power of the Spirit that you are made whole.  So once you have faith, then your life really begins.

Peter writes that after coming to faith, we must add goodness to our lives.  In James 2:17, we are told that “...faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  So no, being good does not get you into Heaven.  Jesus’ sacrifice and your faith in Him does.  But that does not mean that we should not be good.  Not to win God’s love, but to demonstrate our love and faith in Him.  So, be good!  Tell the truth, be kind, serve others, laugh, share the Gospel!

As a beginning violinist, I had a LOT of learning to do.  From correct form to reading music and beyond.  Every day I learned something new.  And so we should in our faith!  We cannot allow ourselves to become stagnant!  Look at our universe, it’s so vast and unimaginable!  Look at the oceans with amazing and indescribable creatures!  Can any of us say that we completely know and understand the creator of all the universe?  No!  Together and alone we need to seek after God’s heart.  Come to a better understanding of Him.  This could mean reading the Bible, or watching a sunset, or practicing meditation on a single verse or word, or going to Bible Study, Youth Group, Sunday School, or church.  Make it your goal to learn at least one new thing about God everyday!

Once your knowledge, faith, and goodness begin to develop into habit, good work!  You are spending time with God, putting your trust in Him, and trying to live in the way He has designed you for!  And now Peter says to just keep going.  

Right here, I imagine Dory from Finding Nemo singing “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming! What do we do? We swim, swim, swim.”  

To keep swimming, Peter instructs us to develop self-control to add to faith, goodness, and knowledge building.  Past FaithBloopers blogs have explored this topic.  When you learn that actions, behaviors, or thoughts that you have are not godly, then you have to change those!  I know, it sucks.  Sometimes we really love the things we have to give up.  Like gossiping.  I LOVE listening to gossip, but it’s not godly.  So in order to demonstrate our faith through action, as James spoke about, we have to develop self-control.

And after self-control come perseverance.  Perseverance for what?  For continuing in self-control even in moments of extreme temptation.  Perseverance in continuing to seek after further knowledge of God, even when you’re busy or don’t feel like it.  Perseverance in being good, even when someone has wronged you and you feel retaliation is your right.  Perseverance in faith, even when the doubts sneak in and Satan whispers lies into your mind.  Perseverance shows God that you’re for real.  That you’re not going to run away when the going gets tough.

Mother Theresa said, “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, and must empty ourselves.  Give yourself fully to God.  He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your weakness.”

And in the statement that we must give ourselves fully to God, we move into Peter’s next instruction.  After perseverance, we must add godliness to our lives.  But what does that even mean?  When I studied this scripture, I realized that I had absolutely no clue what godliness really meant.  So I did some research.  According to Jerry Bridges, the author of The Pursuit of Holiness, to live a godly life we must be actively devoted to God.  He states that devotion is an attitude towards God, composed of: the fear of God, the love of God, and the desire for God.  And these three attitudes towards God must consume us.

William Law writes in A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life: Devotion signifies a life given, or devoted, to God.  He therefore is the devout [godly] man who lives no longer to his own will, or the way and spirit of the world, but to the sole will of God; who considers God in everything, who serves God in everything, who makes all the parts of his common life parts of piety [godliness], by doing everything in the name of God, and under such rules as are conformable to his Glory.

And this devotion to God is maintained through a close relationship with Jesus.  Jerry writes that only a relationship with Christ can prevent our commitment to God from becoming oppressive or legalistic.

If you are interested, Jerry Bridge’s article can be found at https://bible.org/article/what-godliness.

The next stage the Peter describes after godliness, or total commitment and devotion to Christ, is mutual affection.  As we become godly, we will automatically begin to experience and put mutual affection into practice.  Mutual affection between Christians demonstrates that we are family.  That we recognize one another as disciples of Jesus, and love one another with Christ’s love.  This is a challenge in churches when arguments or disagreements arise.  Power struggles frequently occur in congregations.  So if any of you realizes you are currently engaged in such a struggle, pray for God to help you and fellow Christians to come together and experience mutual affection.  Jesus died for that other person and loves each of His children equally, so be sure to show your affection to each other as well!

And finally, mutual affection blossoms in the mature Christian into love.  Love for God.  Love for fellow Christians.  Love for strangers.  And love for enemies.  Peter does not distinguish who it is we must love.  So we must love all people.  Love people in a Jesus-love way.  Jesus helped the sufferers.  He healed those who were hurting.  He provided companionship to the outcasts.  He touched the untouchable.  We cannot show love if we are judgemental.  When judgement, jealousy, anger, greed, or pride are in our hearts, there is no room for love.  This kind of love is hard to reach, difficult to achieve.  But it is the will of God for each of us to reach and display this kind of love to the world.

“For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But if any of you do not have them, you are nearsighted and blind, and you have forgotten that you have been cleansed from your past sins.” 2 Peter 1:8-9 TNIV

So let’s not stop at Row Row Row your Boat!  Let’s push and struggle, practice and learn, pray and seek support!  Christ created us to walk with Him and show His love to the world, so let’s do what we must to develop and learn to love a Jesus-level of love!

God bless each of you!  I pray that you each come closer in your walk with Christ in whatever circumstances God has asked you to walk through.