Thursday, February 09, 2012

"Come, Lord Jesus!" or "Wait, Lord Jesus!" ... or Both?

READING: 2 Peter 3
I often hear Christians excitedly say and pray, "Come, Lord Jesus, come!" 

Meanwhile, my own prayer has often been, "Wait, Lord Jesus, wait!" because I want family and friends who aren't submitting to God's authority to have a chance to recognize it. I've been greatly comforted by 2 Peter 3:9: "The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent."

I think both of these prayers"Please come!" and "Please wait!"represent the same desire: We want what God wants. We want everyone who will eventually recognize God's authority to do so, and we want God to do away will evil and suffering, and to rule. We want his perfect justice.

Paul is Hard to Understand & His Words Will Get Twisted: 2 Peter 3

"Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. ... And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him—speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of [Paul's] comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction." 2 Peter 3:11-12a, 15-16 (NLT)

In this passage, I've always focused on the concept of God's patience. Today, when I read this passage, something popped out at me for the first time: Peter tells us that the Bible will be twisted, wrongly interpreted, and thus made to mean something that it doesn't. Peter specifies that this will occur in particular with Paul's letters.

In recent years, I've heard more strong criticism of Paul's letters than of any other part of the Bible, from both folks who are not Christians and from devout believers.

It doesn't surprise me to hear folks who aren't Christians rail again Paul's statements on topics such as the sin of homosexuality and how women should not teach men. It's understandable that these positions would seem unfair, even unjust, to someone who is not submitted to God's authority. (One friend told me he'd be amenable to exploring Christianity if he could throw out Paul's letters from Scripture.)

But I'm perplexed by comments I've heard from Christians such as, "Paul got it wrong. Paul got a lot of things wrong," and "Scripture can be interpreted in many different ways."