Lectionary Reflection for the Second Sunday of Advent

From 1 & 2 Peter (BTCB) by Douglas Harink, commenting on 2 Peter 3: 8-15

For those who share Peter’s godly vision of an apocalyptically charged world, the present time is never simply dead time or metered time, as a historicist would have it: it is time pregnant with the patienceof God: He “is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (3:9). We live not in a time of empty waiting. We live in the fullness of time of God’s gracious patience—a time given to us in which to repent. This is the time for the church and the heretics and the whole world to wake up to the reality of the bondage of all things to corruption and perishability through desire; to wake up to the reality of the destruction that we bring upon ourselves, even seek out, through our sin and submission to the rebellious powers; to wake up to the reality of the purifying trial to which God will put us on the day of judgment.

 Not only should the church not be impatient that the Lord is slow in coming; perhaps it should also pray that the Lord will indeed be slow, that the day of the Lord will not come upon us “like a thief,” so that the church might have the time necessary to repent of the many and various ways it corrupts faith and life: seeking “peace and security” for itself by compromising with the powers of this age; gaining worldly power by joining cause with the latest and most influential political agenda; growing numerically and economically by using the latest marketing and communications techniques; achieving intellectual, social, or cultural respectability by aligning itself with the latest philosophy, social movement, or interest group. In the time of God’s patience the compromised church is called to repent. For “when they say, ‘There is peace and security,’ then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape” (1 Thess. 5:3). But for those whose lives have been purified, whose eyes are awake, and whose minds are constantly alert to the approaching parousia of the Lord, the glorious day of the Lord is already dawning: “But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of the darkness. . . . But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation” (5:4–5, 8). For the faithful people of God, the day of the Lord is not “a thousand years” away; it is even now coming upon us, for “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day” (2 Pet. 3:8). Christ is already transfigured; the day of the Lord’s apocalypse is on the way.

©2009 by Douglas Harink. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.