Going Deeper 12.03.2020

The second reading for Advent 2... 2 Peter 3:8-15

But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.

It is very challenging for "grace-centered" preachers to maintain the theological balance between the truth that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works (see Ephesians 2:8-9) and the truth that we are saved for good works (see Ephesians 2:10).  But the prophetic message of John the Baptizer we hear in this week's Gospel is a call to "repentance for the forgiveness of sin," to which Luke will add in his Gospel the need to "bear fruits worthy of repentance."  So, this grace-centered preacher is urging us all to heed the call to true repentance.

Repentance involves recognizing and confessing our sins and heading a new direction.  It includes contrition for the evil we do as well as the good we fail to do.  When we spend time seeking a Spirit-empowered heart of repentance, we come to an awareness of just how deeply wounded we are, just how far we fall short.  We see our sin as a BIG DEAL... and then we lay it at the foot of the cross, remembering and celebrating the grace which has covered and erased it all!

But it does not and must not stop there!!  Our lives are to be changed as we gratefully respond to grace by seeking to follow Jesus more and more profoundly.  With God's help, we seek healing and transformation, continuously striving to put sin behind us and to increasingly "bear fruits worthy of repentance."   We come to see good works as our gifts back to God, as well as a pathway to living the most meaningful life possible.

I urge us to spend time contemplating these truths and doing some self-evaluation regarding the adequacy of our discipleship, owning where we fall short, commending our sin and our selves into the hands of our Abba, and praying that the Spirit will both inspire and empower of to grow in good works.

With You in the Struggle,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"