Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday in Advent 3

2 Peter 1:1-11
V. 10. Therefore, brothers and sisters, be all the more eager to confirm your call and election, for if you do this, you will never stumble.

This week we are reading from the Second Letter of Peter (I've put a couple notes about this letter at the bottom of this meditation).

"I am called and chosen by God." It sounds arrogant to say this, but the New Testament is clear that I should have confidence that these things are true. They are not a matter for boasting. They do not make me special, at least in the sense of set apart and different from most people. They just are the truth about me and I can and should live my life as if they were true. You should too.

That's what the writer means by "confirm." We "confirm" our call by the way we live our lives, and the writer has listed some attributes for which we should strive in the verses ahead of this: goodness, knowledge (wisdom), self-control, endurance, godliness, mutual affection, and love. Practicing these things do not make us chosen (only God can do that), but they do confirm our being chosen.

At its best, the practice of gift giving at Christmas is a sign, a token, of mutual affection and love. Ideally, the gift is given expecting nothing in return. The old saying that it is "the thought that counts" is true. At its worst, gift giving at this time of year can be used (and taken) as a sign of being chosen. The size or the quantity of the gift measures the size or the quantity of love. If I don't get a gift from someone than they obviously don't care about me. We can do terrible tings to ourselves and others by these kinds of thoughts.

Let us give gifts as a sign of our simple affection for another, no strings attached. And let each of us remember, "I am called and chosen by God" no matter what.

About 2 Peter: The Second Letter of Peter clearly comes from the second generation of Christians, so someone has obviously written it as a testament in Peter's name, a practice that was not uncommon in those days. The letter wrestles with Christianity's immersion in Greek culture. Some were arguing for some radical changes in ethical standards and in the way the second coming was understood in order for Christian faith to be more palatable to the surrounding culture. The writer of 2 Peter does give some ground, using some of the language of Greek culture, but is basically warning that the apostolic teaching cannot be changed. Christians will continue to have this debate about faith vs. culture right up through the present time.

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