If Christ is the light, won't you follow him?
For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.
2 Peter 1:9–12
Therefore let us shame ourselves. Is there such a storehouse of comfort and grace every way in Christ? Why are we so weak and comfortless? Why are we so dejected as if we had not such a rich husband? All our husband’s riches are ours for our good, we receive of it in our measure, why do we not go to the fountain and make use of it? Why, in the midst of abundance, are we poor and beggarly? Here we may see the misery of the world. Christ is a prophet to teach us the way to heaven, but how few be there that will be directed by him! Christ is a king to subdue all our spiritual and worst enemies that kings tremble at, to subdue death, to subdue the fear of judgment and the wrath of God, and yet how few will come under his government! ‘Christ is the light of the world,’ John ix.5, yet how few follow him! Christ is the way, yet how few tread in his steps! Christ is our wisdom and our riches, yet how few go to him to fetch any riches, but content themselves with the transitory things of this life! Men live as if Christ were nothing, or did nothing concern them, as if he were a person abstracted from them, as if he were not a head or husband, as if he had received the Spirit only for himself and not for them, whereas all that is in Christ is for us. I beseech you therefore let us learn to know Christ better, and to make use of him.
A Description of Christ, Richard Sibbes (works p. 21)
We forget. I have a picture book my parents gave to me as a kid, ‘I Just Forgot,’ maybe because I reminded my mom of the character in the book. As humans we hold this life in a balance that regularly crashes. We can’t fully manage what we have on our plates, and sometimes that is because we have chosen to take up too much, and sometimes this is because we have entered the valley of the shadow of death. Sometimes we have become stuck in the slough of despair and sometimes we have been trapped by our own sins and failures. You know what your mother (or mine) might have said to you when you answered her, ‘I just forgot.’ She might have said, ‘that’s not an excuse.’ And she’s right. But I do think that expects that I am firing on all cylinders, perfectly comprehending my actions, their repercussions, and my heart behind it. In our brokenness we forget, we neglect, we isolate ourselves, we hurt others, we undermine ourselves, many times without a clear reason. Our blindness runs deep as the fall, and somehow many humans can live pretty contentedly this way. As humans, ever since the garden, we are happy to live in our mud as long as its ours.
As a Christian, this blindness isn’t the end. When we act out in blindness though, we are forgetting something really important: we have forgiveness of our sins. Like I said in this past week’s sermon, I don’t think Peter is implying that these people aren’t then Christians, but he is warning them of their precarious actions. I think another way of saying we forget that we have forgiveness of sins is to say we have forgotten to practice applying the gospel to our lives, and in every area of our lives. Sibbes is pretty great here: ‘Therefore let us shame ourselves. Is there such a storehouse of comfort and grace in every way in Christ? Why are we so weak and comfortless?’ His point is we’ve forgotten to run to the rock that is Christ and find comfort and grace in him.
And later on in the passage above from 2 Peter he says, ‘I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.’ In other words, you’ve got to continue to go back to the basics, you can’t forget to make use of Christ in your whole life, and over my dead body will I let you forget! The thing is that we are ever tempted to look for answers in the world for our normal problems, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If we have ice on our sidewalk, we go to the store and get salt. But when our search for answers in the world controls us, we are forgetting to make use of Christ in our life. So we must meditate on scripture and consider always and ever how the gospel has worked in my life, is working in my life, and how it might work in my life in the future. This is a difficult and long work. It’s not something that we can just do and it’s done. Instead, God through his word and Spirit will continue to be honing us ‘til the end of our days here on this earth.