Unpacking…

Have you ever gone on a trip, and when it was time to leave you had more stuff than would fit in your luggage? That is how I feel this week after returning from my mountain retreat.
That is a sad statement however, according to Peter I should always be getting more in my suitcase.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted...” (2 Peter 1:5-9) Peter lists various virtues that are necessary for avoiding spiritual myopia: myopia simply means nearsightedness. Unfortunately, my faith is often just too nearsighted.

Peter offers no explanation or description of this long list of virtues. He simply notes them and says, you either have them, or you do not; you either can see, or you cannot. He then exhorts us: make every effort to see! For Peter, knowing Jesus most fully means working diligently to internalize and exhibit Christ-like characteristics on a daily basis--and in “increasing measure.” In other words, we never arrive on a spiritual peak from which we have nowhere higher to climb. There is always room to grow; there is always more to see.

All of us are afflicted with shortsightedness at times. We focus on the struggles right in front of us because faraway promises appear so blurred. We focus on a nagging worry or a superficial frustration because the bigger picture is so much harder to fathom. Interestingly, Peter does tell us to stop looking close to home into order to see clearer visions of the future. (Of course, he would tell us not to worry, as this is not focusing on anything helpful.) But instead, he reminds us that focusing on our union with Christ and our own internalizing of Christ’s qualities helps us to keep the bigger picture in focus and our overall knowledge of Christ most effective. Nobel prize-winning poet Nelly Sachs similarly urges us to widen our gaze and fix our eyes on the transcendent by looking right in front of us.

“In the evening your vision widens
looks out beyond midnight–
twofold I stand before you–
green bud rising out of dried-up sepal,
in the room where we are of two worlds.”

Perhaps the place where we can see hope blossom--no matter how dark and distant it may seem--is closer than we think. Looking at the world through the eyes of Scripture, the hope of the gospel, and the presence of the kingdom provides us with corrective lenses through which we can see who Christ is, who we truly are, and indeed, who we can become beside him. Take a look and see for yourself.
God convicted me this weekend of the many little things that I focus on to make my self nearsighted in my faith. He also challenged me to “step-out” in faith and trust that He would handle the rest. I hope as I unpack the spiritual lessons I learned this week, that I can heed to the words written by Peter…
“…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

jb.

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