Advent 02 2008
2 Peter 3:8-15 – Year B
“God wants you”
2 Peter 3:8-15 (NIV)
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. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
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 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. b That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s so wonderful that you are here today. Your presence here today actually comes as no surprise to God. It’s because God wants you so badly that He’s been waiting an eternity for you to be here today. It does not matter whether you have been here hundreds of times before, or whether today is the first time you have stepped inside this Church, or if today is the first time you have ever been inside any Church. God has been waiting for this moment to talk to you. Today is your day!
You may have struggled getting here. You may have been here many times before and are still not in a place where you feel you should be in your faith journey. Sometimes it is just so hard to get our act together. You may wonder what you are doing here, or indeed what God is doing with your life.
Somewhere I read a story about a concert held in Philadelphia. One of the movements featured a flute solo that was to be played as if coming from a distance.
The conductor had instructed the flutist to stand off stage where he was to count the measures precisely in order to come in at the exact time. This was important since there could be no visual contact between the conductor and the soloist.
On the performance night when the time came for the flute solo, the flutist began exactly. The fine, lilting notes floated out beautifully.
Suddenly there was a pinching sour note and the soloist was silent.
The conductor was outraged and at the end of the piece he rushed off stage to find the poor flutist.
The player was prepared. “Maestro,” he said, “Before you say anything let me tell you what happened, but really, you’re not going to believe it.”
“You know I came in accurately, and everything was going beautifully, when suddenly – this enormous stage hand ran up, grabbed away my flute, and pushed me back, saying, “Shut up, you idiot! Don't you know there's a concert going on out there? What are you doing here?”
Have you ever asked yourself, “What in the world am I doing here? What does it all mean? What is expected of me? How will I know when enough is enough? And how far do I take this religion business? How much does God really demand out of me? How far do I go? I mean, a bit of religion is okay, but I really don’t want to be considered some sort of ‘religious nut’!”
These verses from 2 Peter speak directly to your questions. These short verses that we have heard today, speak of the heart of God. These verses give me insight into what God actually wants from me and indeed all humanity. God wants one thing from you. Listen.
9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.
This is what God wants of you – did you hear it? God wants you with Him in eternity. It’s easy to hear sermons which deal with what’s happening in the world, issues that are removed from us, the injustice of so many things that we hear about daily. However, all that changes when all of a sudden we are not talking about some abstract concept, or helping those in some Third World country. No. All of a sudden things take on a new perspective when what we are hearing relates to us personally and our own status before God.
Today is one of those days and maybe this is why you are here today. You are in this place to hear what God has to say about your life. You are here to listen to God’s Word spoken directly to you. You are here because this sermon is not in the abstract – it’s about the present. It’s about your present. It’s about your life – here, now and into eternity.
You see, part of the problem we have with God’s plans for us is that we tend to have our own plans, desires, dreams and aspirations. While there is nothing intrinsically bad about this as a concept, the problems arise when we believe that we know better than God! Too many people go throughout their whole life, living life as they think they should, rather than seeking God’s direction for who He has uniquely created them to be.
Take for example a story I read about a lady called Gladys Aylward who was unable to accept the looks God had given her. Ms Aylward told how when she was a child she had two great sorrows. One, that while all her friends had beautiful golden hair, hers was black and to make matters worse – it was dead straight. Her other great sorrow was that while her friends were still growing, she had stopped. As a fully grown adult she was about four feet ten inches tall whereas all her friends were willowy and five foot eight.
But when at last she reached the country to which God had called her to be a missionary, she stood on the wharf in Shanghai and looked around at the people to whom He had called her. “Every single one of them” she said, “had black hair and it was straight! And every one of them had stopped growing when I did.”
Finally she was able to look to God and exclaim, “Lord God, You know what You’re doing!”
Can you say those words? “Lord God, You know what You’re doing!” Have you ever said those words, or are they words that have difficultly getting past your lips? It can be difficult, if not impossible to say those words if you are holding on to the reigns of your life and refusing to acknowledge that God’s ways are above your ways and His thoughts are above your thoughts.
I’ve said that God wants you – it’s the theme for today. What God wants from you is repentance.
Repentance is one of those sorts of words that we don’t hear in everyday usage that much. Repentance is one of those words that is virtually reserved for ‘Church use’ and therefore people don’t necessarily have a good handle on exactly what it means for them.
Repentance is a moral act involving the turning of the whole person in spirit, mind and will to consent, and subjection, to the will of God. It is in a very real sense a moral miracle, it’s a gift of grace. Terms often confused with repentance, such as penitence, remorse or penance, do not do justice to the impact of grace which we call repentance.
Living in repentance is really a ‘walking in our baptism’. Luther said, “Baptism delivers from evil, unites to God, suppresses sin, strengthens in holiness, and continues through life.
So why does God want you to repent as noted in our reading? Is it because God likes the idea of you ‘grovelling in the dust’ and that He takes some type of perverse pleasure in seeing you dejected and submissive to His will? No, no way!
God needs you to repent for one reason. Unless you repent and are truly sorry for your sinful actions, thoughts, words and deeds that go against His commands, then how can God bestow on you, give you, grant you His forgiveness? Unless you see your need for a Saviour, unless you see your need for Jesus Christ in your life, you are never going to come to Him. It’s in the very act of repentance that you come face to face with your sin that has the potential to separate you from God in this life and in the life to come.
It is in repentance, true, deep and contrite remorse that you understand that you stand as a condemned person: Condemned to live a life only on your own terms – separated from God and His will for your life and condemned to spend an eternity separated from God and the delight that He wishes you to share in for all time.
When you repent, when you are remorseful for all you have done, for all you have not done, for thoughts, words and deeds and then see that there is nothing you can do to make yourself more acceptable to God, and then you come before God trusting not in your own righteousness, but in His great mercy, God is finally able to say, “At last. I was hoping that you’d see your need for what I have for you.”
You see, God is so patient. He does not want, He does not plan, He does not desire one single person to be lost to Him – now or in eternity. That’s one reason that I believe God has not already brought all things to a conclusion … yet. God knows that if He were to bring about the end of the world, say now, then there would be a lot of people who would wind up spending a ‘God-less eternity’. Whereas, the longer He holds off, the more opportunity there is for people to hear from people like you and to themselves repent and come to Him.
The call on our life is to leave behind anything that would get in the way of our relationship with God. Repent and determine to move away from any activity that you know deep in your heart is not God pleasing. Then after you have repented, you will hear God’s words of forgiveness spoken directly to and for you.
God does not wish you to be lost to Him.
X The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen. X
a Some manuscripts be burned up
b Or as you wait eagerly for the day of God to come
 Elliott, Elizabeth, Let me be a woman
 Isaiah 55:9
 Allbeck, Willard D Studies in the Lutheran Confessions Fortress1968 pg 242