Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

Patiently Urging

It is the season of Advent. During this season, we generally follow the lectionary passages in our worship on Sunday mornings. This year, we are sticking with the Gospel passage each week. However, I usually take time during the week to study the other passages. This morning, I was directed to 2 Peter 3:8-15. The first part of this passage speaks of God’s patience. We might wonder why God is delaying his return. Peter reminds us that God does not desire that any perish. Therefore, He is holding off.

(2 Peter 3:9 ESV) 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.

This is a comforting thought. Knowing that God deeply desires repentant hearts and is willing to wait highlights His love. God is stable. He is not speedy in his judgment. Yet, He will come. His return is sure. Peter describes,

(2 Peter 3:10 ESV) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

So how are we to feel about God’s coming? What should our posture be? I love Peter’s instruction. It is certainly pertinent to discerning in the church. Peter explains,

(2 Peter 3:11–12 ESV) Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.

It is helpful to use more than one translation here. The NIV puts it this way.

(2 Peter 3:11–12 NIV11-GK) Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.

Peter poses a question and then answers it. What sort of people are we to be? We are to live holy and godly lives. Certainly there is much to say about this. But the part that has to do with discerning is in verse 12. The ESV uses two words to describe our posture. We are waiting and hastening. These descriptions might seem like opposite stances. The first (waiting) sounds like we idle. However, the Greek word (prosdokao) implies activity. Strong’s defines the word,

(to watch); to anticipate (in thought, hope or fear); by implication, to await: — (be in) expect(-ation), look (for), when looked, tarry, wait for.

The second word (hastening ESV or speed NIV) certainly implies action. However, there is an element of waiting in this word. It has to do with anticipating what is not yet. Strong’s defines this Greek word (speudo),

urge on (diligently or earnestly); by implication, to await eagerly: — (make, with) haste unto.

This description of our attitude toward the coming of Jesus highlights the need to hold back and urge on, all at the same time. This is similar to our process of discerning. We are moving forward, and we are holding back. We are going fast enough to get something done but not too fast as to leave God out of the process. May we continue to learn to balance these two (waiting and hastening). May we learn to be patient with God yet urge Him on in his mission. May our steadfast, persistent, forbearing frame of mind proclaim, “Come Lord Jesus, Come!”