By John Greco
It was the end of October. It was New Jersey. And we were seated outside in view of the shoreline. My wife, Laurin, and I had traveled many miles north from our oh-so-warm home in Georgia for her cousin’s wedding. We had not realized the ceremony was going to be held in the open air, and we had not dressed for the weather. It was windy, and it was freezing—almost literally. The temperature was hovering somewhere in the upper 30s. More than once during the ceremony, my bride nudged me in the ribs because my teeth were chattering audibly.
The scene itself was beautiful: the bride and groom holding hands under the arbor, bathed in autumn light, with the rhythm of the ocean waves lapping steadily behind their wedding vows. But I was too busy counting the seconds until we would be dismissed into the gloriously well-heated hotel ballroom for the reception. When that wonderful moment came, Laurin and I were among the first to find our way inside. As the rest of the wedding guests entered the ballroom, I watched them as they quickly shed their coats. The garments that had brought them comfort outdoors no longer had the same effect inside.
There is coming a day when those who have been comfortable in this broken world will no longer be so. That is why Peter, at the close of his second letter, tells us, “Therefore, dear friends, while you wait for these things, make every effort to be found without spot or blemish in his sight, at peace” (2 Peter 3:14). Peter wants us to get ready now for the world that is coming, a kingdom where righteousness reigns. It’s time to shed the sins we hide behind, those fears that threaten to consume us, and our misguided attempts to find security apart from Jesus.
It’s striking to me that our reading from 2 Peter today comprises the last recorded words of the apostle Peter in Scripture. Think about his journey from Galilean fisherman to close friend of Jesus to denying disciple to Spirit-filled apostle. Tradition tells us that not too long after this final letter was penned, Peter was crucified in Rome for his faith in Jesus Christ. He seems to have known his death was imminent, for earlier in the letter he wrote, “I know that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has indeed made clear to me” (1:14), likely an allusion to John 21:18–19. Peter was focused on the world to come, and his final words are a plea for us to do the same. We do that when we “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18), because only that which reflects the goodness, truth, and beauty of Jesus will last.
Peter, the disciple who once rebuked Jesus for talking about His death (Matthew 16:22), can now say with his own martyrdom in full view, “To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (3:18). The kingdom is coming. Now is our time to prepare, so that through our lives, Jesus will have the glory that is rightfully His. As the day draws near, may we look toward the future with the same single-minded focus as Peter.
Written by John Greco