December 7, 2008
2nd Sunday of Advent (B)
I enjoy traveling to new places, experiencing different cultures and the peculiarities that distinguish cultures. I enjoy the different architectures and landscapes that distinguish one country from the next. And I enjoy the time away from my routine.
But without fail, at some point, usually in the two- to three-week range, I begin longing for home. This is especially true when I travel alone because for me, home is more of a “who” than a “what.” Home is the people to whom I’m the most deeply committed. Home is where I’m known, understood, valued, loved, where I feel safe and secure, where I experience the most significant and authentic community. When I start to really miss home, these relationships-this community-become a source of hope, expectation and longing.
I think the Christian life is often experienced like this. We know we’re on a journey and that home isn’t here or now but somewhere else and some other time-or, rather, someone else. Home is after our Lord returns to Earth to make things right. Home is the eternal experience of the triune God and His family in a newly re-created place. It’s a future expectation, a future longing that’s presently ours only in promise. And the longer we’re away, the more intense our longing to go home. Sometimes that longing is in danger of discouragement. The realization of the promise seems so distant that we begin wondering if it’s real at all. How do we live in light of a promise that seems so far from fulfillment? How do we endure the wait?
In our text today, the author sets out to answer those questions. He gives the second of a two-part argument against some false teaching attempting to convince the faithful that the Lord Jesus wouldn’t make good on His promise to return. In this section the author gives the reason for the Lord’s tarrying, a reassurance of the coming Day of the Lord, and an exhortation to live in light of the new creation that will follow judgment on that Day. His whole intention is that believers stay focused on the promise. How appropriate to focus on the promise of His coming during the Advent season.
I. Don’t lose sight of God’s desire (
The reason given for our Lord’s delay is that God’s timing operates differently. Here the author picks up the language of Psalm 90 to make clear the distinction between the time frame of finite humanity and that of an eternal God. Whatever we think or expect from God concerning timing must be in line with God’s desires. And the author tells us that the motivation for God’s timing is people.
The great reformer John Calvin says of this verse in his commentary that: “So wonderful is [God’s] love towards mankind, that He would have them all to be saved, and is of His own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost” (Calvin, Second Epistle of Peter).
Stay focused on the promise. Know that what we perceive to be delay is really God’s plan to redeem. Don’t lose sight of God’s desire for redemption. Adopt His heart of mercy, patience and longsuffering. Don’t lose hope in God’s ability to change the hearts of those around you who seem so far from faith.
II. Don’t lose sight of God’s provision (
What we need is a vision of the future that’s so strong that it captivates us in the present. That vision is our future home-what our author refers to as the new heavens and the new earth. That’s where we find reassurance while we wait, by fixing our hearts on the future.
Home is where salvation is final-redemption complete. Home is where you’re completely known, understood, valued, unconditionally loved-where you’re absolutely safe, where you experience your greatest joy and ultimate satisfaction, where righteousness dwells.
I can’t help but think that our author was looking forward to being home (see
Don’t lose sight of God’s provision, a vision of the future that enables us to live well in the here and now. Stay focused on the promise.