15 September 20202 Peter 1:19-21
... until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (v. 19)
Psalm: Psalm 119:129-144
The Early Church struggled just as much as we do with knowing what is true or not. We need to be attentive to this difficulty because the day hasn't dawned and the morning star is yet to rise in our hearts. For now, we only have a lamp shining in a dark place and have to wait for greater clarity and certainty to come. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13:12: we now see only a part as through a glass dimly. This is our struggle to know what is true and what is not and there is no easy way around it. Christians may argue that truth is simple and that they do what the Bible says, but one can never do that without some personal interpretation of the Bible. And Peter is clear: "No prophecy of scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation" (v. 20). Here is a caution to those who proclaim simple truths without noticing their own interpretations and experiences. Through the ages people have dogmatically called on their selection and interpretation of Scripture to justify the most dreadful and appalling acts and beliefs. Peter's suggestion is that it is the human being moved by the Holy Spirit that will have the answers, but this only locates the struggle for truth within the complexity of experience and fellowship.
The struggle, however, is not without hope. We do have a lamp – Psalm 119:105. God's Spirit does speak through our experience and through Scripture. While we have a lamp in the dark for the time being, the morning star will come. One day we will "know fully as we are fully known" (1 Corinthians 13:12). Just because discerning God's will is a struggle doesn't mean we can't have a go at it! It does mean, however, that we need each other to check things through, and we must use our experience and wisdom to see the sense. We must be open to God's continuing prompting as the Holy Spirit brings the word to life in our hearts. Peter's words are an encouragement quite as much as they are a warning. A warning not to be quite so dogmatic! And an encouragement to seek and find the life-giving truth of the gospel (good news of Jesus).
- Where have your certainties been challenged as you have encountered other people's points of view?
- What is a helpful challenge?
- How is your understanding of the gospel different today from three/five/ten/twenty years ago?