2 May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. 3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. 5 In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. 8 The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. -- 2 Peter 1:2-8 (New Living Translation)
“More and more grace and peace…”—that sounds great doesn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I find that these days, more grace (love with no strings attached—like we receive from God) and more peace (that passes all understanding—that is available from God) is always welcomed and required. The stresses of daily life along with the high transmission rates of COVID in all our counties makes more grace and peace even more vital. The author of this scripture tells us, that we are given more and more, as we grow in “knowledge” of God and Jesus our Lord. The “knowing” that is referred to is more than just “book knowledge” (even if that book is the Bible); more than just knowing the facts. The “knowing” is about relationship and connection to Jesus. The scripture goes on to say that we have been given everything we need to live a godly life, a life after the example of Christ. Our coming to “know him” is how we have received it. The ongoing, living relationship that each of us has with Jesus is the “conduit” to receive everything we need to faithfully follow Jesus, and be “Jesus-with-skin on” in the world we share.
Our connection to Christ, enables us to read the Bible and hear the voice of the Savior speaking to us through the ancient words, instructing and guiding us in faithful living today. Our connection to Christ makes it possible to understand ourselves as Beloved of God, just as the Voice declared over Jesus at the River Jordan. Our connection to Christ grows that understanding to open our eyes to the “Belovedness” of each and every person, regardless of their human condition. Our connection to Christ, opens our mind, heart and soul to the movement of the Holy Spirit to continue to shape our understanding, our attitudes and actions to be more and more after the life of Christ—loving God so fully that it is expressed in how we love our neighbor.
This connection to Christ strengthens us for whatever hardships or challenges come our way—and they will come to all of us. We can walk through loss, loneliness, anxiety, addiction, change and even COVID, knowing that we have resources beyond our individual or “group” human resources. Walking right alongside us is our Lord and Savior Jesus. His Spirit guides and guards our steps. His Compassion soothes our soul and heals our heart. His Strength lifts us up when we are discouraged or feel we can’t go on. Staying anchored to Christ in all the times of our lives, grows us more and more into relationship with Christ, and pours the very attributes of Jesus into us, transforming us; making the Image of God, that has always been part of us, more and more clear to everyone, including ourselves.
Growing in this way friends, is good for us as individuals, and is helpful and fruitful for everyone around us, whose lives we touch. It is the “gift that keeps on giving”. Opening ourselves to the Presence of Christ in us and working through us, makes us more and more useful to the One Who Loves us beyond our understanding-- so much so that He gave is very life for all. I can’t help but wonder what our lives--my life—your life, would be like if we took that deep dive into our relationship with Jesus. What impact could it have if we didn’t settle for skimming the surface, and instead invested our time, our heart, our intellect, our spirit into exploring and experiencing a “closer walk with Thee (Jesus)”? It might mean doing some things less, so we can do some things more (like less TV and more Bible reading and prayer); or, it might mean doing some things more and some things less (like more serving your neighbor and being connected to others and less worrying about how to keep the lights on in the church building).
So, over the next week or so, I invite you to join me in praying the above scripture selection daily. Read it out loud, slowly, several times. Pause over words or phrases that provoke a reaction in your spirit. Listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit, moving in your mind and heart, lifting up what you need to hear and absorb. Write down what you perceive, perhaps fashioning a prayer, that you share with Jesus. I encourage you to try this ancient spiritual practice, known as Lectio Divina. Wikipedia defines Lectio Divina this way (underline and bolding my own): In Western Christianity, Lectio Divina is a traditional monastic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's word. In the view of one commentator, it does not treat scripture as texts to be studied, but as the living word.
Give it a try. You can use it whenever you open your Bible and wherever you open it to. The important thing is that YOU BE OPEN. God will speak to you; and your heart and life (and the lives of others) will be richer for it. Let me know how it goes for you. Be blessed in all you do, and be a blessing to all!