Infinite Access - GROW - Part 2
As some of you may know some of us have decided to take being more like Jesus to what we see is the next level… we are growing* beards.
That’s right, in the hottest months of the year we are going to add extra insulation to our face and endure weeks of itching. But why when our graceful, merciful God loves us for who we are - exactly how we are?
Well for me I see it like this, if it’s easy it’s not growing. If I don’t need to put effort in I’m not growing, and I see my relationship with God and Jesus this way.
We see this in 2 Peter Chapter 1:5-8: “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let’s look at that in more detail;
“..make every effort..” A quick look on thesaurus.com tells us effort isn’t easy...
Ever had an easy battle? Is exercise easy? Is striving easy? Sometimes even just going isn't easy! Labour, pain, strain, stress, stretching, trials = all easy? But let’s be honest we all go through every one of them at some point.
So, Peter right from the off, is telling us he knows having faith isn’t easy but push ourselves that little bit more… by adding to our faith with goodness. Now Peter isn’t talking your 5 a day goodness (although I wholeheartedly agree with 5 a day!), this goodness looks like grace, mercy and kindness.
But Peter doesn't stop there.
Instead he pushes us again to grow by adding knowledge, to our faith and goodness. Something we can grow in through opening up the Bible and listening and learning from each other.
Ok, so that's faithful, good and knowledgeable (three down!), but like any good mentor or coach Peter wants to push us so doesn't stop there. Next he encourages us to practice self-control. Is this just the supressing of our sinful human nature? There is so much more to it, because we have help.
Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit – as we see in Galatians 5:22-23:“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
We are getting there now right? There can't be many more... I try to be faithful, I’m pretty good, I’m quite knowledgeable and I’m not too bad at self-control (unless there's donuts - that's a quick Infinite plug as we love a donut!).
There's more… Peter asks us to persist in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success… or as he puts it… perseverance. Now I really do have something to work on!
Persevere with our faith, goodness, pursuit of knowledge and self-control.
Peter has finished, and next throws what he calls Godliness into the mix (see the beard reference early was relevant!). This means that we have a very practical awareness of God in every aspect of our life. We begin to learn what it means to pray without ceasing. We begin to learn how to grow in every aspect of life from God's perspective. What would Jesus do if someone cut him up at the lights? What would Jesus do if he didn’t get that job he was going for?
So, Peter has got us being more ‘God like’ now too… surely there can’t be anything else… sorry folks… there is, but only two more and these are two of my favourites…
Mutual affection is next up, the kind of affection we have for others in the family of God – our Christian Brothers and Sisters. If we are to truly grow more like Jesus, we need to show this in the way we recognise and appreciate others.
In the time of Instagram likes, Twitter followers and alike this doesn’t mean favouriting every post from your favourite speaker (although it’s nice 😉) or watching shows like Love Island because it is full of people whose appearance is attractive but it does mean going out of your way for your Brothers and Sisters.
Like we see in Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give in preference to one another.”
And last, but certainly not least, Peter asks us to love.
As basic as that may sound it’s the toughest of the requests from Peter. This is a self-sacrificing love, the kind of unfathomable love that we learn from Jesus.
Okay, so that's it. It's as easy as faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love.
I’m in, but it certainly isn’t going to be easy.
Let’s see how much we can grow in six weeks (beards optional…)
Reflect on one of the key words above that you feel you need to grow in most. How could you do that? What opportunities are coming up that may allow you to grow in it?
One example, if you were to focus on love, may be to think of one person that you need to show this love towards – it might be someone who we feel it's a little harder to love, or someone who may be lonely. Choosing to love isn't always easy, but it's freeing and so so worth it.