My fiancée and I have been working through a pre-marital counseling book by Francis and Lisa Chan called You and Me Forever. The book starts by attempting to shift the focus of the reader from “what can I do to create a perfect marriage?” to “how can I better rely on and follow God with my marriage?” Honestly, I like the approach to step away from the “me-first” approach – the questions of what I can bring to the table, or what can I do. Ultimately, I can do nothing when compared to what God is capable of. While reading, I found a passage of Scripture which, after discussion with a close friend, we realized may just supply a new model or framework to approach growth.
While talking, my friend Jon brought up the point that the point of our religion isn’t to “be better.” The point is change. Changed lives, not just in the here and now, but in eternity. When that true change takes place, what others may perceive as being a “better person” will likely follow naturally. Really though, if we are just trying to be better, it’s all for show. “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10, NIV).
This new model is something I plan to strive for in the following weeks in an attempt to bring about deeper change.
In You and Me Forever, there is a passage from 2 Peter. Fun fact: the letters of Peter are some of my favorite passages of Scripture; the first has to do with suffering and facing hardship even while walking with God, while the second deals with being cautious of false teachings and carefully considering the information we are given.
The main passage I’m concerned with is as given below:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
For this very reason, make every effort to 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. For if these qualities are yours and increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
– 2 Peter 1:3-8 (ESV)
What life-giving, powerful words all on their own. Really, I feel just the surface level of this passage is good enough to be its own post. However, I wanted to look a little deeper and look at this as a guide. I also specifically chose the ESV version of this passage because I love the power of each word in it, but I will reference the NIV version as well in coming posts.
So let’s first break down what’s above. Just the first half of the first sentence carries so much: He has already “granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (emphasis added). Anything that you need, God has already granted to you. You didn’t need to ask and you never will, God has already given it. Through what He has given, you are able to break free from “the corruption that is in this world.” The start of this passage is as much liberation as it is instruction.
So knowing that you already have all the tools (a theme that is actually very prevalent in the Bible), let’s look at the step-by-step guide that follows. If you look at all of those attributes at once, it’s honestly a little overwhelming. Isn’t the passage asking a lot of us? I mean, yeah, I have some knowledge, but when it comes to my self-control? Yikes. Steadfastness? I guess sometimes. Godliness? Let’s just put a pin in that and say I have some work to do.
Let’s dial it back a little. Let’s start small.
The biggest thing I can emphasize in this whole series – if there’s one thing you can take away – is that it all starts with faith. Please note too that it doesn’t specify what kind of faith. Strong faith, weak faith, little faith, big faith, it doesn’t matter. Faith as small as a mustard seed. Start where you’re at. Start with faith. Focus on that. Build faith first. From there, grow.
Then, start to strengthen your faith with virtue. Then add knowledge. Then self-control. And so on, you get the idea. There’s a framework above, and if you look closely, so much of Scripture points directly to it at each step, but we’ll get to that!
This has turned into a pretty long post just to introduce the series, so I don’t want to go too much further so as to not spoil it. Each week, I’ll go through each step of this new model and define what it means and share some ideas what it looks like both internally and externally.
Like I said, it all starts with faith, no matter how big of how small. The goal of this faith is not first and foremost be a better person, but to create change. Change in your life and maybe in the lives of others.
Start with faith.
To God be the Glory.