Sermons

Summary: God tarries, but does that mean he is faithful to his promise to return soon?

The Fury Waits

2 Peter 3:1-18

Cascades Fellowship CRC, JX MI

May 3, 2009

Series: Little Letters – The Forgotten Wisdom of the Bible

There is a play out there by Samuel Beckett called Waiting for Gadot. In the play, two derelicts sit and discuss rather mindlessly their deplorable condition while waiting for a person named Gadot – who, incidentally, never appears. Although considered one of the most important stage works of the 20th Century, the play is filled with notions about hopelessness and meaninglessness of existence. The characters talk openly of suicide and the entire play seems to push the viewer toward the idea that life is a cosmic accident and the thought of God is only there as a way to placate our troubled souls which are bored with the monotony of living. The play seems to encapsulate Beckett’s own existential angst expressed when he commented that “human life is the endurance and tolerance to ‘the boredom of living’ ‘replaced by the suffering of being.’ These phrases speak volumes of a philosophy born out of the harsh human realities” that are reflected in the play.

It is generally accepted that in the play God is portrayed as Gadot. The Gadot character – though he never makes it on to the stage and is somewhat of an enigma – still receives enough development through the dialogue that it is clear at whom Beckett is aiming his pen. There are hints at Gadot’s redeeming power, his infinite knowledge, his strange brand of justice. But the overall sense of the play is that even though the two main characters wait for Gadot, they really have no hope of his ever arriving – no hope of a real and personal relationship with Gadot. In other words, their lives are absurd because they spend it waiting for someone who will never come.

It seems to me that Samuel Becket must have been a bible scholar on some level, because the premise of his play mirrors almost precisely the problem the Apostle Peter was addressing in this third chapter of his 2nd epistle. Now, maybe I am giving too much credit to Beckett – perhaps he was just a skeptic asking the same questions that false teachers were asking 2000 years ago, give or take a decade or two. Nonetheless, the questions and doctrines he weaves into Waiting for Gadot seem to come straight from the mouths of those who were stirring up trouble – trouble the Apostle Peter felt he needed to spend his departing words on.

You will remember that when we began looking at 2nd Peter, we discovered that the apostle understood his days to be numbered – Christ had revealed to him that soon his labors would be over and he would depart to be with Christ. So Peter is focused on preparing the church to carry on the Gospel mission after he leaves. The apostolic witness was growing more scarce – that is, the actual witness of the apostles was dying out as they were being martyred. Already James the Greater – the son of Zebedee, Philip, Matthew, James the Lesser – the son of Alphaeus, Matthias – who replaced Judas, and Andrew, the brother of Peter, have been martyred for their faith. Mark- the Gospel writer – had also been killed. So the original witnesses to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus were a dying breed.

Now that’s not to say that the Gospel was fading from existence. Peter, Paul, and the other apostles had committed the Gospel to faithful men – trustworthy people who would accurately proclaim the message of salvation. But there were those who were not so scrupulous – men, of whom Paul said that their god was their own bellies, their own appetites – who misused the Gospel for their own ends. These were false teachers, proclaiming their own perversions under the guise of the Gospel.

It was these men that Peter was writing about.

In the first chapter, Peter calls for the church – that is us – to cling to the Gospel that we first received. He reminded us about the nature of salvation – that God has elected us for a purpose; to be effective and productive in our knowledge of Jesus Christ. In other words, that our character grows in reflecting the character of Jesus Christ; that we grow in grace and holiness. That the grace of God become so conspicuous in our lives we will be unable to deny him or blend into the fleshly, lustful culture that dominates our society. He wants us to make our calling and election sure – that is, obvious; lived out loud so that our lives shout, “I belong to Jesus.”

He then defends the Gospel he preached against those who would deny its power – who would deny the truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who would scoff at the ascension, who would say that talk of Jesus’ return is just a well-spun fairytale.

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