Summary: Christians are being martyred all across the Middle East in countries that once tolerated them. Churches are being destroyed and brought to rubble. Entire Christian communities are being wiped out and even crucifixion is back. Can we patiently wait?
For many of us patience is a virtue that is difficult to cultivate in our hustle bustle society. The world moves at the speed of the internet while many of us are left trying to keep up. I’m reminded of that old ketchup commercial for Heinz were two small boys are waiting for the ketchup to make its way from the bottle to the hamburger. In the background is a song “Anticipation” which draws upon the value of waiting for a good thing.
That commercial was updated in the 80’s with the same song also using a hamburger but the two boys were gone. Instead it begins with the song playing then a hand holding a plastic bottle of Heinz ketchup is seen. We get the first few bars of the song and then we get the sound of ketchup burping out of a plastic bottle.
These two commercials remind me of the two kinds of Christians that exists today. Some are still patiently and faithfully waiting for the Lord’s return while others want to squeeze the bottle that is time in order to get the good stuff out in a hurry. They want to see God speed the Lord’s return in our present day.
St. Peter is addressing a church that is much like one in our present time. They have grown weary, fearful and impatient for the Lord’s return and many want to see their present circumstances change now rather than later. Today the church is being ridiculed and mocked by society openly and even vehemently.
You could say that we are being selfish to want to see God’s plans materialized now to end our lack of patience and faithfulness or to end this current trend towards persecuting Christians.
When St. Peter wrote this letter Jesus had returned to Heaven for about 30 years. The church was experiencing its first dramatic full blown persecution from the government through the Emperor Nero. People were brazenly accusing Christians “They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?” Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:4
Christians were being burned at the stake in the arena and to light Nero’s garden at night when he wanted to take a late night chariot ride. They were covered in tar and set on fire while alive.
Christians were also being punished socially and religiously not unlike today. At this time in history being a Christian was not politically correct. Many suffered for it and thought that the End Times were upon them and who could blame them.
St. Peter had to lovingly remind them that with God time is not measured in human standards. 2 Peter 3:8-9
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Fast forward to today and we see similar things. Christians are being martyred all across the Middle East in countries that once tolerated them. Churches are being destroyed and brought to rubble. Entire Christian communities are being wiped out and even crucifixion is back. Here in North America the ground is being prepared by political correctness and relativism. Slowly but surely God is being removed from the public square and social discourse.
Speaking the words of the Bible can get you labeled as a bigot or a member of a hate group even though the words are directly from the Bible and not your own.
So what advice does St. Peter offer to churches who find themselves being marginalized and persecuted and muzzled?
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.[a]
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
St. Peter reminds us that God is still on the throne and that the End Times events will be marked as the tick tock of Gods watch not ours. Yes the events will transpire just as promised and since that is the case “what kind of people ought we (Christians) to be?
We should be living godly holy lives striving to acquire the virtues of Jesus like patience as one of the fruits of the spirit. In the time that we find ourselves waiting and maybe even suffering while waiting we should be growing instead of shrinking;