I heard about an ivy league class back east several years ago that offered a class on how to write your memoirs. It made me laugh because first the population was overwhelmingly young and next it was presumptuous to think that they will be so wise in achieving and expressing themselves from a wise pedestal. Time with experience are wise components to knowing how to live a life that is worth living.
But there are other points to wisdom in living a good life and they center particularly in relationship. There is even a shallow application of that truth in the business world in that to get ahead it is “not just what you know, but who you know.”
An older wiser Simon Peter knew about that because he knew Jesus well and was formed by Him well in the life of a disciple. And in his second letter (or I like to call second papal encyclical), he lays out a pattern of areas a child of God should embrace being formed in.
2 Peter 1:2 May grace and peace be yours in abundance in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature. 5 For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. 8 For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers and sisters,be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.
May grace and peace be yours in abundance
There is a subtle message in this line that is easy to overlook. Peter is not wishing just enough grace and peace to believers to get by but more than enough. Though he starts the letter to all those who have received Jesus, Peter wants plenty left over for whatever agenda God wants to do by abundance.
in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
And now we get to “who you know”. English can rip us off if we are not careful. Many Americans are not in poverty of Bible verses to quote but are in poverty of getting those verses from their full heads to their empty hearts. Therefore some of the most dry words I have heard, including from my own lips, have been, “I know that verse.” Knowing the Bible is not knowing by relationship Jesus. It is supposed to be intimate like spouses in their embrace rather than an e-mail.
His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
It would take a long time to show verses in the New Testament that tie into this verse, but basically Peter is referring to the fulfilled work of Jesus by the atonement, resurrection and confirming of us into His Church by the Holy Spirit. Sure, you could always add to this, but do not be surprised if your seemingly great spiritual fortress turns into the Leaning Tower of Piza.
Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) states in context of this verse, “They are made capable of doing so by the grace of Christ and the gifts of the Spirit, which they receive through the sacraments and through prayer (1692).
It would take too long for a blog to unpack all of the virtues that Peter addresses, but I would like to make an observation that our growth in respective virtues is really a series of conversions. In the life of Peter, we see Peter being overconfident when he meets Jesus that He could not catch fish. When he is overwhelmed by the miracle he is also humbled and acknowledges that he is a sinful man. But we all need a touch of grace. He falls, but in knowing Jesus personally in His grace, we keep getting back up. A step back, a step or more forward. It depends on where we are predisposed in our hearts to go.
For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Remember those questions of inquiry from high school biology about life? Is it reproducing, eating and growing? Then it is alive. For us to examine our conscience effectively, we should ask if we are in a process or in a rut of distance from God’s presence and/or Christ’s image. If we find ourselves stagnant, who moved? Where is the resolution for this?
For anyone who lacks these things is short-sighted and blind, and is forgetful of the cleansing of past sins.
This brings us back to our spiritual beginning—being baptized into the new covenant in Christ.
“But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent” (Revelation 2:4-5).
Conversion is a turning point of knowing the power of Jesus grace to cleanse and give new life. This is not as the world would give in science, mental assent to a a deep goose bump. It is divine and accessed through faith at our first and later love stage. Such past conversion is our “high point” of reference.
Therefore, brothers and sisters,be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.
So if we are in Christ, can we be stable in that? Only for as long as we keep our focus on Him and stay in the agenda we have been called to.