Take Root Downward
On Sunday, toward the beginning of the sermon, I took up the biblical metaphor of a tree to depict what is to be true of all our lives: we are to take root downward that we might bear fruit upward. We are to continually grow and mature in our union with Jesus, that his life may continue to flow in us through the Spirit. Peter, the famed apostle, helps us in this regard.
When I come across Peter, whether in the Gospels, Acts, or in his letters, I always find myself grateful that his actions and words are recounted for the Church. He is far from a polished character, yet loved all the same. So it is with us. In his second letter, he provides a short list of qualities that, "if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful..." (1:8). He continues his exhortation by stating, "be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall." (1:10) His qualities are these: "...supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love." (1:5-7).
It is too easy to skip through that list, acknowledging that these are "good things", and move on. But, to pick up the tree metaphor again, I'd ask you to pause at these trees and observe them one at a time. This needn't take forever; a few minutes will suffice. Which of these is the Lord drawing you toward? Which pricks your heart? Which is a known area of weakness?
It is easy for the reality and presence of our weaknesses to push us to shame. Don't let them push you in that direction; but let them push you to Christ. For all of Peter's weak moments, he kept returning to Christ, he kept coming back to the light.
Grace & Peace