Most of us are all too keenly aware of the qualities we lack in following Jesus. We possess the assurance of our weakness instead of the assurance of His faithfulness. Perhaps you’re like me: From time to time I catch myself thinking, “If I only had a little more faith I could be a better disciple.”
Let me share with you a passage from Peter’s second letter that changed my life forever. Following Jesus no longer seems like an impossibility. Now it feels like God is empowering me to do it!
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort . . .” 2 Peter 1:3-5
7 Truths About Following Jesus From 2 Peter
1. “His divine power . . .”
In following Jesus, our everyday life in Christ should be based upon his divine power, not our human strength. Our lives in Christ began with the miracle of our new birth. He did something for us we could not do for ourselves. Each continuing day with him should be based on this same revelation–we need his divine power daily.
2. “Has given us everything we need for life and godliness . . .”
The problem is, most of us think that God did “his part” on the cross and now the rest is up to us. It’s a common mistake, Paul needed to remind the Galatians that what was begun in the Holy Spirit could not be finished in the flesh. The good news is ongoing; he isn’t finished dispensing his grace!
3. “Through our knowledge of him . . .”
Roadblock! Our western mindset leads us to believe that the knowledge of him comes through mere study. I’m pretty sure Peter is not urging us toward an academic knowledge of Jesus. There’s nothing wrong with the study of Jesus, but a more fruitful approach is to know him by experiencing his presence.
4. “His own glory and goodness . . . ”
Modern Americans have difficulty understanding “glory,” but his glory can impact our life. Most of us don’t even have a category called glory, but Peter urges followers of Jesus to soak in God’s glory the way we might soak in a tub. Does that seem strange to you? Perhaps that’s why we have difficulty trusting in his goodness as well. Yet the testimony of those who have walked with him is: He is good beyond all measure. And better yet, this glory and goodness is directed toward us!
5. “He has given us very great and precious promises . . .”
Do we ever reflect upon his promises? My unscientific opinion is that not one in 10 believers can point to a promise made by Jesus beyond the promise of eternal life. For most, the benefits of a relationship with Jesus are locked up in the age to come. I’m afraid that for most of us, his promises are like autumn leaves. They’re beautiful, but not very useful. But what if we believed there were promises for us to receive today?
6. “So that through them you may participate in the divine nature . . .”
Have you ever reflected on the idea that if you are his child then he wants you to enjoy the family identity as well? We can participate in God’s nature, right here, right now. Part of becoming a child of God is receiving something of his nature. Who knows the full meaning of this Scriptural phrase? Not me, but I’m convinced that whatever it means, it has to be good!
7. “And escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires . . . “
Many believers are trapped into thinking the gospel is only about forgiveness. They see the Christian life as a cycle of sin, forgiveness, followed by more sin. On and on, until we are transported outta here. But the good news is even better. Peter wants us to know we can be set free from the cycle of corruption!
These are the seven keys to following Jesus, but like all keys they merely unlock the door to the next passageway. The Scripture calls us to action as well. One final point about following Jesus:
“For this very reason, make every effort . . .”
Peter’s exhortation comes after we see things from God’s perspective. The order is important. Notice that “effort” comes after we encounter his divine power, his glory and goodness, and his precious promises. Too many disciples of Jesus, serious in their commitment to follow him, believe that their effort comes first. Instead, our effort is a response to all he has done.
Some Christians think effort is opposed to grace. For these friends, we can only quote Dallas Willard: “Grace is not opposed to effort; it is opposed to earning.” The good news is that following Jesus is possible!