A long time ago a pastor of mine I respected said that when we feel we have a gift that is truly from God, it is not first for our generation but for the next. That has stuck with me first as a dad and then more broadly about the world I leave behind. Am I leaving behind something worthwhile for the younger generation to be better than me?
Peter, the fisherman turned pope, had been on quite the journey in his life. He had learned a lot about walking in a holy life through being teachable to the hand of Jesus. In his last letter of his life, he wanted to make his life count for something in sharing his journey. His journey when seen by virtues of the faith he had picked up were:faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance godliness, mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.
But what are virtues really about? Do we want to impress God? Impress ourselves? Impress each other? Peter thought that all of the above were true…but then he grew up.
2 Peter:1:8 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,[g] be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you.
For the right motivations, there are some great jewels of what matters explained well.
1: Being effective and fruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ is not an intellectual pursuit. Jesus wants to be known in an intimate way. We are ready for that when we apply those virtues above in our vertical relationship with God and our horizontal relationship with others.
2: It is then implied that to keep growing in those virtues, a process and not boxed items, you keep your spiritual awareness and remember the sanctifying grace of your baptism (see 1 Peter 3:21).
12 Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory, 14 since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
since I know that my death will come soon, as indeed our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
Peter is accepting of death, but living fully in the life he has now. Knowing that his death is coming up, Peter does not get bitter and sees his role in his last days to keep drawing people to God. Peter has died a little at a time for many years under the formation of the Master and the spiritual harvest is in what he passes on to the others.
And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
I would submit to you that Peter is not talking about a recent trip to the lawyer’s office for his last will and testament. Peter is speaking partly from a theological fact of the communion of saints and also with words of love. When he is in heaven he anticipates the chance to pray for them when he is in heaven. What else is there to do? Send a check? His life of unselfish living made him into a servant for the people in the next phase of salvation history. But his life in Christ also reassured him that there was work to be done on either side of the curtain so to speak. This life of faith reassured Peter that he was called to be a servant in heaven as he had been on earth.
So what is stopping us from living a heavenly life now? Peter was slow to listen in his youth and sometimes had to be corrected sharply. But what is stopping us from being moldable now? From being God centered and others- centered now?
Let’s follow Him. And start living a heavenly life a bit early.