“A Conscience lock”
2 Peter 3:8-15a
The day looks to be taking forever. And the length of the day appears to be inversely proportional to the hardships we face in it. That is — the worse the events one must endure to get to the end of the day, the longer it takes for the day to unfold and happen.
When the day gets harder to endure, there is also a decline in most of us too. The pressure makes the temperature gauge rise, and we begin to boil. It doesn’t take much for us to blow our tops. Hardships burden us so our patience is depleted and we become more and more intolerant to the events happening around us.
Extreme weather can add pressure to our days; stinking hot summers and bitterly cold winters can both weigh heavy on our patience. Various pain, limited only by the imagination, can make one feel as though the day seems to take a thousand years. Guilt from doing something wrong also gives the impression of slowing the day as we ponder, “If only I hadn’t done that!” In fact, anything that causes hardship has a lengthening effect on time so a day feels like it takes a thousand years to happen.
Saint Peter encourages those under pressure from impatient scoffers and those hell-bent on doing evil who have forgotten God’s Word, saying:
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
If we compare the eternal almighty majesty of our Heavenly Father next to our pettiness and weaknesses which constantly test God’s patience, it’s not surprising that a day examining us seems like an eternity, let alone a thousand years.
God is so powerful he can examine all things big and small, complex and simple, microcosms and macrocosms. And he can do it in the blink of an eye. If it were possible to reach the edge of eternity, God would have already been there for an eternity.
Inside eternity he has knowledge of every single thing he has created, every star, every planet, every rock, every tree, the internal structure of every atom and molecule, every creature that walks the earth, flies over it, and swims in its waters.
And he knows everything about every person. What would take a thousand years to learn about yourself, God knows in a day. In fact, he knew your every impulse, thought, and action in the eternal moment before a blink of his eye.
This is absolutely amazing since we don’t even know ourselves or the pulses that run through our minds in a matter of seconds. Do you ever wonder how you ended up thinking about someone or an event from the past when you first were thinking of something completely different? Have you then gone back and tried to list the chain of events from your subconscious that led your thoughts from one to the other? It’s hard enough to remember a chain of events just happened in your mind let alone from further back in the past.
Can any of us remember everything about our past anyway? God knows every microscopic detail about our past, and even our future! None of us have an intimate knowledge of our medical and physiological makeup, nor do we really want to know! But God knows every sinew, every drop of blood, and every pulse of your brain. Yet he hasn’t even taken a surgeons knife to you to look in side.
We don’t have an intimate knowledge of our internal bodies in a physical sense. Furthermore, how much do we really know about each other in a social sense? Our understanding of our interaction with other people is so limited; yet it’s so complex, but God has full view of it all.
He sees all things we do, both good and bad. He sees the things we should have done. He sees all of our sins that occur as a result of our sinful condition, the ones we know, feeling guilty and ashamed about, and the sins we seek to justify. He also see the sins we overlook; the sins we don’t even know we commit. And it’s not just you he knows, it’s every impulse, thought, desire, and deed of every person who has lived, is living, and will ever live.
Now for us to know all this about our mortal selves would take a thousand years, let alone knowing anyone else around us. But it’s comforting to know God is patient with us and doesn’t do to us what our condition deserves. Although he is infinitely intimate with our whole person, God’s patience endures in the hope we will not eternally perish.
But having been made his children in baptism, receiving the life-giving condition of Christ in our mortal frames, have you ever wondered why God doesn’t place in us a stop guard so we no longer falter from the sinful condition still in us. Perhaps it would have been good if God had placed a conscience lock in us as he gives us new life in Christ!
A conscience lock would kick in and disable our physical bodies when we seek to harm our brother or sister in any way. A conscience lock would flash illegal error in the brain when our thoughts became devious. A conscience lock would silence us when our words waver from what is good and wholesome. The conscience lock would also work the other way and make us conscious of things around us. It would wake us to the needs of others, and we would never need an alarm clock to make it to church on time.
However, this is not the way God works. It’s not the way Christ worked when God sent him to be born in Bethlehem. Jesus was no robot. He was as human as you and me; and capable of the same sin as you and me. If Jesus was a robot sent from God, how much would he be able to relate to our human condition? But he struggled with the same things as you and me, yet he remained faithful to God and didn’t succumb to the sinful human nature as we do.
We like Jesus are not robots. So there is no lock on our consciences, although Christ is living in us. Jesus allowed himself to be handed over to death as result of our sin and he gave us life. Jesus rescues us and chose to take us to our Heavenly Father through his sacrifice. And now that we are with him, he calls us to stand with him, remain with him, and abide with him in heavenly peace.
Our sinful nature, the old Adam, still remains although we have now been given the new nature of the New Adam, Jesus Christ. But just like Christ God desires faith rather than robotics. Yet God is still patient with us, his people, his church!
God has done the work of salvation and brought us to it. He is faithful and in his work of salvation grants us faith through the work of the Holy Spirit. He is patient with us, willing us to see ourselves for who we are, to be conscious of our consciences, and trust what he has done for us.
Having been given this trusting faith, God desires you to remain with him and seek repentance, because he doesn’t want any person to perish. God is patient, but God will fulfil all of his promises. In these last days God desires you to understand his patience, to rest in his forgiveness, and to know of his almighty power as his comes forgiving you in his word, before the last day when he promises to put all things right.
Finally hear God’s word from Saint Peter…
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. Since every thing 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. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation. (2 Peter 3:10-15a)