“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen” 2 Peter 3:18
There is a big emphasis, particularly in places like Western Europe and North America on individual development, self-actualisation, being someone who grows into a ‘better me’. There are some good things within the mix of this. Though is it completely a fully healthy picture?
Sure, it is healthy to have a proper sense of ‘self’ – this can truly come with humility in our lives. Humility includes a true recognition of who we are – it neither means we inflate ourselves nor put ourselves down falsely.
Individuals achieving things can also have a great benefit for others too.
The over-emphasis on the individual can become hugely imbalanced and even, toxic.
Yes we are individuals but we are also called to community – and that is true whether we are extroverts or introverts (I write as one of the latter).
So to the words in italics above. Peter finishes his second letter that is recorded in the New Testament, with these words.
It is a call to keep on growing. ‘Grow’ is a key word in ICL’s mission statement.
Peter highlights two areas of growth both related to Christ. Neither are just about us alone.
Firstly to grow in the grace (undeserved, unlimited favour) of Christ – how might that look for you and I to grow in this? For instance, not only to know more and more grace in our lives but to express it to others? Others like our family members, friends, neighbours, colleagues or other students. This world needs to experience the grace of God. More grace please!
Also Peter gives a call to grow in the knowledge of Christ. The word for knowledge here is not about gaining more factual knowledge about Christ alone. It is not about puffing up our religious facts and figures! Nor is it even just so we can give reasons to others about why we believe in Christ (though that is a good thing to be able to do). Rather the knowledge that Peter writes about is deeper than that – it is a knowing where we are experiencing Christ at work in our lives.
The same root word is actually used by Mary in the Advent story when she asks out of confusion how can she be pregnant ‘since I am a virgin?’ The literal translation is ‘since I do not know a man?’ (Luke 1:34) This word we have translated as ‘knowledge’ is one that speaks intimately of our lives. It is so much more than just head knowledge!
To grow in such knowledge is again not just for us as individuals – those around us need to see the reality of ‘Emmanuel – God with us!’
We live in a world tossed back and forth with political turmoil, refugees fleeing, natural disasters, human trafficking and environmental exploitation to name just a few things. How the grace and knowledge of Christ need to be seen.
So let’s keep growing with His help!
PS If you believe in praying, pray for people caught up in different situations around the world. For instance, as I write this, an earthquake has hit Mexico and the latest hurricane has been assaulting Puerto Rico, Dominica and other places in the Caribbean.