Dear Church Family,
Lately, every time I turn around, I see and hear about stars. For example, Ethan, Caroline and I just saw the new Star Wars movie. Every song I hear on Pandora Internet Radio references stars falling and twinkling. I even tested this “star phenomenon” and opened up a magazine on my desk (this is 100% true) and the first article I opened to was: “Clobbering Time: How Superheros Killed the Movie Star.” Uncanny! But that’s not all. I just walked upstairs to visit Kurt and what did I see? A small galaxy of multi-colored stars! Here’s a picture:
(Now, I did just text Louise to confirm their stellar identities and she responded: “[No] Pinwheels, just for colorful summer fun.” But I demur! I know stars when I see stars. I would dare ANYONE to look me in the eye and tell me those are not stars. Anyway, on Sunday, we’ll talk about stars and other celestial phenomena.)
Speaking of Sunday, I’m eager to gather with you as we continue our trek through 2 Peter. Our big theme from last week was that readiness for the return of Christ requires recall. We must become adept rememberers. Let me briefly finish two points that I didn’t get to.
III. Remember that CATACLYSM followed CORRUPTION in ancient times.
ESV 2 Peter 3:5-7 For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, 6 and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. 7 But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
The first sentence in “Cosmos,” Carl Sagan’s immensely popular book is this: “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” This book is purportedly about science, but as Tim Keller would point out in his excellent series “The Reason for God,” that’s a philosophical statement rather than a scientific one.
(By the way, for our first Alpha follow-up, we’ve invited our guests to a six-week video series called The Reason for God starting Tuesday, June 26 at 7 PM in the Campus Center. It’s based on Tim Keller’s outstanding book. Please come and bring a spiritually curious person with you.)
Despite the philosophical naturalism all around (i.e., matter is all there is), people through the ages have sensed that a Creator is responsible for the precise calibration, beauty and orderliness of the cosmos that God established. But, of course, that knowledge can be suppressed — like it was by the scoffers who “deliberately overlook[ed] this fact” (2 Pet. 3:5) that creation came about through the speech of an active, loving Creator. What’s more, the same God who said “let there be” also said “let there not be” and put the ancient world (Phase 1) under water.
Just what it means that the present world (Phase 2) has flames in its future (see 2 Pet. 3:7) is an issue we’ll take up at length this Sunday with a message about God’s “Smart Fire.” Here’s the final truth to retain:
IV. Remember that any “TARDINESS” on God’s part stems from his TENDERNESS.
ESV 2 Peter 3:8-9 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
It’s no surprise that God’s experience of time is different from ours. Peter tells us that periods that we perceive to be long are short to God, and vice versa.
The Parousia is only delayed (if we can say that) so more people can change their minds. As we give the good news, we can trust God to give the “epignosis.” And for us who us who believe and have been “cleansed from past sins” (2 Pet. 1:9), additional “ticks” mean opportunity to increase in Peter’s “Elite Eight” (2 Pet. 1:5-7) — in other words, smothering the “fire,” melting the “ice” and kindling love. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about because you missed last week, please pick up the CD or listen to the message online.)
One more anecdote. Becky and took a hike at Mt. Tamalpais last Friday. We were very surprised to stumble upon a most unexpected site, a wrecked car.
It wasn’t clear how it got there because there was no road in sight. We did some internet research and found that KQED has featured this metal carcass on its “Bay Curious” series. But curiosity remains because so does the mystery. A car expert determined that it is (or was) a 1941 Pontiac, but beyond that no one knows how it came to rest (and rust) there. However, being a pastor, I see theological concepts more than I even see stars! Here’s what I’m getting at: Some people think that the Earth will end up like this once shiny Pontiac — decimated and defunct. Maybe so. Maybe not. On Sunday we’ll also talk about this Biblical mystery when we converge to worship Jesus and learn from 2 Peter 3:10-14.
With love from your brother in Christ,