God’s sense of humor: I’m listening to 2 Peter 3 this morning (“the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief …) and on the web page next to the passage is an ad for the new Left Behind movie (starring the world-famous actor Nicolas “Sominex” Cage).
Peter reminds us that “in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire” — and it seems like we have been living in the last days for thousands of days now. However, Peter also says the Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, but is being patient for the sake of believers: “He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent.”
We think of repentance as something lost people do, but in this passage Peter is telling the believers (us) that the Lord is being patient for our sake and giving us time to repent too. That’s because ‘repentance’ isn’t just about turning from our old sinful ways and turning to Christ for rescue. The Greek word is metanoeo, and it’s about the complete transformation of who we are — the narrow road journey that builds in us the character of Jesus and teaches us how to continue his mission in the world. It’s a revolutionary renewing of your mind that turns you into an agent of God’s shalom revolution in the world. (Related: What does it mean to ‘repent’?)
Peter’s point (in v.14) is for believers: “While you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life and be at peace with God.” Only after Peter says that does he add that the Lord also is waiting so people have time to be saved.
Peter doubles down on his point about God holding off Judgment Day to give his people time to mature spiritually. He warns us about “ignorant and unstable” people who twist the Scripture and carry away unwary, immature Christians into error. Peter says, “I don’t want you to lose your own secure footing.”
I wouldn’t bother going to see a movie that lulls Christians into complacency with the false promise that they won’t have to endure the tribulation that is coming. I wouldn’t suggest you spend large amounts of time trying to sort out the specific sequence of events that lead to Judgment Day. I would suggest, “dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life and be at peace with God … and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”