Two weeks ago we started II Peter by discussing the first verse where Peter, masterfully established unity and equality within the body of Christ. Everything begins with servanthood, within the Body of Christ authority is established and revealed through servanthood. Peter, described himself, to his friends and readers as “a bondservant and apostle”, one who only leads because he serves. There is no authority in God’s kingdom without servanthood. Jesus, the preeminent One, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Himself, not only the form of a man but the form of a bondservant. Jesus, the One to whom every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess, said He did not come to be served but to serve. Peter began the letter by announcing that his role as an apostle was only an extension of his identity as a servant. But that was not where unity and equality ended, it was not only that they were united in servanthood but they were united by faith, faith that Peter described as “equally precious with ours”. Let’s recall that Peter was not just an apostle, he was a Jew. Peter was of a race that had often viewed itself as being superior to others by virtue of being “chosen by God”. The sad reality is that for many Jews of that age, being chosen was not worn with humility, recognizing it as a gift from God without any personal merit of their own, but it was viewed as an entitlement, something that set them apart above other races rather than something that set them in between as priests. Peter was a Jew, Paul referred to him as the apostle to the Jews, in Galatians 2:8 and yet, in this letter, he is writing to Jews and Gentiles and so he begins his letter by assuring his readers, that no matter their ethnicity, no matter their background, no matter which path led them to Jesus, now that they were in Jesus, they all shared “equally precious faith”. We talked about it at length last week, but we can’t simply gloss over it as we begin tonight, what if we chose, what if we decided to view each other within the body of Christ, no matter our differences of race, tradition, experience, background or even opinion, as “those with equally precious faith as ours”? How much more respect would we give and receive? How much more love would we exhibit? How much more powerful would our witness be? How much more like Jesus would we look? Before we move on to verse 2, I want to remind us all, look around this room, no matter how different we look, no matter how different we vote, no matter how different we view Halloween, we are sitting among “those with equally precious faith as ours”.
In tonight’s text, Peter builds off the established unity and equality by beginning to call us to something deeper. We love to talk about salvation being a relationship not a religion, but a relationship requires effort from both parties. Yes, we are saved, not of works lest we should boast, but salvation should put us to work. We don’t work to be saved but we work because we have been saved and so in this passage Peter begins calling his readers to do the work required to live in the gift they have been given.