Today's Lectionary Text
2 Peter 3:8-13
Don’t let it escape your notice, dear friends, that with the Lord a single day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord isn’t slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that day the heavens will pass away with a dreadful noise, the elements will be consumed by fire, and the earth and all the works done on it will be exposed.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be? You must live holy and godly lives, waiting for and hastening the coming day of God. Because of that day, the heavens will be destroyed by fire and the elements will melt away in the flames. But according to his promise we are waiting for a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.
I grew up in a Baptist church, and we had a new pastor join us when I was in high school. It was not at all unusual for this pastor to pull out the “fire and brimstone” kind of sermon. He was a southern gentleman more from the Southern Baptist persuasion than our American Baptist congregation, but he was such a compelling speaker — complete with the occasional pulpit slap and drawl in his voice — that his sermons were entertaining as well as educational. Almost every sermon ended with some form of the popular question: “If you were to die today, do you know where you would go?”
When I moved to The United Methodist Church late in my college years, I didn’t hear that “eternity insurance policy” kind of sermon any longer. Instead, I heard a lot about how to live a better life in the here and now, and I heard a lot more about pushing for justice in a world with greater and greater gaps between races, economic fortunes and many other barriers between people.
I think we need both approaches, and I think today’s lectionary text points that out. Verse 10 talks of a day of judgment, and verse 11 then asks what we as people should strive to be. We are supposed to live holy and godly lives, such as the sermons I started hearing far more often when I joined the UMC. But we also shouldn’t ignore the Baptist focus of eternal souls of the people we encounter. Verse 12 shares an illustration about that fire and brimstone, along with the promise of a new heaven and new earth.
I want to make life better for marginalized and downtrodden in our world today. I also want them to have an eternal home in the presence of our Risen Savior.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, help us always to be mindful of how we can help people suffering in the world today. Help us also to be mindful of sharing the promise of eternity in Christ’s presence for all who believe in the Risen Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
We would love to hear your story! Sign up to contribute to our daily devotion.
This Week's Lectionary
This Week's Liturgical Color