What are Simeon-Peter’s concerns for the church?
1. That we live Godly, effective lives.
In 2 Peter: 1, Christians are exhorted to build on their foundation of faith by practising (i.e. getting better at, pursuing, developing our awareness of) the fruits of the spirit. To what end? Virtue > Knowledge > Self-Control >Steadfastness >Godliness >Brotherly Affection > Love. (2 Peter 1: 5-7) The end is that we cultivate Love, the ultimate characteristic of God. It is not possible to short-circuit this process and somehow develop “love” apart from all these other things. But the life of the genuine Christian progresses along these lines, so we should identify these fruits of the spirit and pursue them in earnest.
2. That we are plugged in to the right power source.
We will feel no desire to pursue the fruits of the spirit unless we are firmly rooted in the gospel. D.A. Carson rightly highlights the words “for this very reason” in chapter 1. God has called us to this: that we may become “partakers of the divine nature”. The very glory he has revealed in the cross of Christ is something we are being called to take hold of for eternity: this is our motivation. God wants us to grasp this, and to have his glorious love and grace as our motives. God intends his glory to be embraced by us both as our natural motivation and also the means of accessing his supernatural power. Selfish, self-righteous pursuit of spiritual fruits is destined for failure, and worse, for judgement.
3. That we are aware of the reality and dangers of false teaching.
Ask yourself: how good a handle do you have on your priorities? Do you know what is of paramount importance? Christians are to expect false teachers. We are not to swallow everything we’re fed. But we should realise too that false teachers abound because Christians themselves are fallen human beings, and our default position is to get things upside down. So we must learn to discern. That means developing our knowledge and understanding of scripture, which is the true measure of teaching and prophecy (2 Peter 1: 19-21). False teachers will cause us to get the wrong priorities. Our doctrine will be skewed, and we will forget about the most important things.
4. That we understand that Christ will return.
This is one of the most important things! (2 Peter 3: 10-13) If we have been told what the future holds, only a fool acts as though this has no bearing on his priorities. We have a confidence of the outcome.
5. That we treat all these things seriously.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish and at peace. (2 Peter 3:14 ESV)
What a prospect: that we have a means of being free from sin…access to God’s peace…full understanding of the love of God…power to participate in God’s transformation of sin…access to the glory of God…personal, loving relationship with Jesus Christ.
These are Peter’s priorities, his God-exalted grasp of reality, founded in the promises of Scripture and confirmed in the person of Jesus Christ.
[addendum : I came across this video and found the idea quite moving…the lordship of Christ being unexpectedly proclaimed, and people’s general confusion…It struck me as a powerful metaphor, given point 4]