2 PETER 3:11-18
11Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, 12waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? 13But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
14Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability. 18But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
On one side of the spectrum you have the scholar and on the other side you have the fisherman. To see both of them on this same page is remarkable and for whatever reason also quite moving. The fisherman, Peter, even notes something about the scholar's writing -- that "there are some things in them [letters] hard to understand." Peter must have been reading Paul's Letter to the Romans.
Both these men from different backgrounds were friends and key Apostles of the Risen Lord. Peter, in fact, was the chief leader for the Jerusalem church. Paul, the main missionary Apostle to the Gentiles. By the time of the writing of 2 Peter (68 A.D.), Peter's sense of his own death was imminent and prescient.
Because of the false teaching about the second coming (that Jesus would not return), Peter makes his case that indeed Jesus will return. Because of this certainty, Peter urges his listeners to live a certain way -- "leading lives of holiness and godliness" ("at peace, without spot or blemish").
Holiness and godliness are not, what philosophers might call, "natural kinds," things that occur in the natural world. Rather, holiness and godliness' origins are from a different place, a different realm, in short, from a different Person. To be holy and to be godly are ways of being like God. Now why would Peter encourage his listeners to be like God?
Only by being like God (in his moral traits) can a person see the world and bless the world rightly. The fallen world and the tainted church are full of people who are spotted and blemished, so to speak. There is no differentiation between the world and the church then. Spotted and blemished morally is the common lot. There is no hope in that. There is no compelling witness for the truth of Jesus in that. The message of salvation that says that you will be transformed would turn out to be false advertising. Only by being like God is there any true hope of making a difference, for one's own life and for lives that surround us. Because, in the end, what we and others really need is God in Christ! Let's be holy and godly, for everyone's sake.
Let's pray: Father God, we approach you this day with a reminder that we are called to be radically different and in that difference is the difference that blesses the world and blesses us. Help us to be holy and godly. Not in the spirit of religion but in the Spirit of your Son. To see things the way you see things, to feel things the way you feel things -- these are the gifts that come with holiness and godliness. How we need these for our lives! Help us! In Jesus' name, amen.