I Peter 3: 13 But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 14 Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; 15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.
The apostle Peter is writing to a Christian community which, for a number of reasons, is under duress. First, there was persecution from those outside of the church. Second, Jesus’ return was taking much longer than anyone expected – which was getting harder and harder to explain. Third, and perhaps most importantly, there was division within the church community itself as Peter mentioned in v.14, “…strive to be found by him at peace”…
A community of people, unified in purpose and resolve, is powerful and resilient. It’s one reason why “families” (by blood or not) are the fundamental building blocks of human existence. However when a community is divided – warring against itself – it weakens rapidly and can be easily overcome. Jesus said it this way, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Mark 3:25)
The American church is under duress right now, not so much from persecution but from the challenges presented by a world that has changed significantly during this time of pandemic. More than ever we need to be united as a church, yet there has been growing division instead – mostly mimicking the growing division outside of the church. And so this morning, like the apostle Peter, I pray for unity. In the church. In families. In neighborhoods. In our country and in our world. Lord let it be so. Amen.