If there’s one thing that’s crystal clear in this passage, it’s that this world will not last forever.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare…That day will bring the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. (10, 12)
Most of the time, we don’t even consider this. Instead we waste our lives on things that don’t matter. We waste our lives on temporary pleasures, on work, on money. But in the end, all these things will burn. And not only will the earth be laid bare, so will our hearts. And God will judge us for how we lived our lives here.
And so Peter says,
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. (11-12)
In short, keep your priorities straight. Since these things will be destroyed, don’t set your hearts on them. Instead set your heart on God and his kingdom. Live lives pleasing to him. And each day, seek to expand his kingdom. Touch the lives around you, sharing the love of Christ with them.
It’s hard to imaging that we can “speed” the day of Christ’s coming. But in a sense, we can. For when the final person God has called receives Jesus as Savior and Lord, the church’s work is done, and there is no reason left for God to delay Christ’s coming.
Before we worry about bringing peace between God and mankind, however, we need to make sure that we ourselves are at peace with him. As Peter puts it,
Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him. (14)
But we cannot be at peace with God if we are living merely to please ourselves. Nor can we be at peace with God if we distort his teachings.
That’s apparently what some people were doing with Paul’s writings as well as the other scriptures, “to their own destruction.” (16)
Too many people pick and choose what they like from the Bible. And if something God teaches makes them uncomfortable, they ignore it or try to explain it away. In some cases, they outright change it. But we can’t do that and be at peace at God. We need to accept him as he is, not as we would like him to be.
So Peter tells us to be on our guard against people who would distort God’s word in that way.
And then he closes the same way he started, saying,
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (18)
Put aside any teachings that would diminish Jesus or his Word. Rather draw near to him and learn from him, and as each day passes, he will seem bigger to you than he ever was before.
And grace and peace will abound to you.
To him be the glory both now and forevermore. Amen. (18b)