I want to start by thinking about the difference between waiting and wanting. But I’m not happy with those words. Waiting sounds passive and boring and wanting sounds active and more exciting – and I want it to be the emotions to be the other way round. Let me explain.
Imagine a child on Christmas Eve – looking at presents under the tree – and feeling this desperate excitement – they can barely sleep – it’s in their mind all the time - they just can’t wait – to open their presents.
What they are doing is waiting – but it’s not passive and dull – it’s not waiting for a bus type of waiting – it’s an excited, eager, can’t wait – sort of waiting.
Compare that with a child who passes the window of a toy shop in July. They look in – and see things they like. Great toys. They want them but there’s little chance of getting them – it’s a ‘can’t have’ sort wanting – or probably won’t get – sort of wanting.
In those terms – I think today it’s probably true to say that as a culture we do quite a lot of wanting – and not much waiting. There are some things we wait for - there’s the holiday we’ve booked that we’re looking forward to – maybe we buy a flat and can’t wait to move in – there’s sometimes of ‘I can’t wait’ waiting.
Yet there’s quite a lot of I want – a better job, fulfilling relationship, more money – but there’s little chance it’s going to happen. It’s not wrong – we might want very good things. But it’s a can’t have/probably won’t get sort of wanting.
Well Peter here says that Christians – those who trust in Jesus if that’s us tonight – are people or should be people – who are dominated by waiting - filled with a can’t wait – sort of waiting. And actually being filled with that sort of waiting will change our wanting.
In particular - we are waiting for what Peter calls righteousness. That’s first thing we’re going to focus on – we’re people who:
Waiting – in a can’t wait way - for righteousness
That phrase, look forward, is literally, wait, as you wait for the day of God. But ‘look forward’ is a good translation because there is anticipation to the waiting – you’re expectant and longing – it’s waiting in a - can’t wait - sense.
We’re waiting for the ‘day of God’ or the day Jesus returns to this world - Peter has been describing that day throughout this chapter. So far he’s said it will be a day of judgement for the enemies of God. In this second part of the chapter he focuses on it being a day of recreation. Lets go on in v12-13 READ.
It’s the most extraordinary day. A day of judgement, destruction - the end of this world as we know it, and the start a perfect new world. What we sometimes call heaven – but is better called a new creation.
And Peter says three times - Christians are waiting for it. V12 we’ve seen – we look forward to the day of God. V13 we are looking forward or waiting to his new world. And v14 – since you are looking forward – waiting.
That’s why I say that for Peter, Christians are waiting people – this is his assumption – that we’re waiting for this day – in an expectant – eager – can’t wait sort of way.
So the question that makes me ask – is that true of us? True of me? Am I waiting –longing - for God’s new creation.
I remember someone asking me – do you think about heaven? Can’t remember what the context was now – but it was a good question. It led to realise – and say – it’s in my thinking, but not in my thoughts.
It’s in my thinking – that is, it’s in my theology, I believe it, I would say it’s true. But it’s not in my thoughts, my day to day musings – my longings.
Peter isn’t just thinking of right theology – he’s talking about looking forward to this – so it’s in our minds – we’re looking forward to this - longing for this.
As I say that’s often not true of me – and you may feel similarly. Now why is that? Why aren’t we looking forward to this day?
Well I think there are two reasons you might not look forward to something. One is because you don’t think it will happen. Very unlikely – so why get excited? Or because you don’t think it’s going to be that good. It doesn’t grab you, it’s not worth being excited about.
If we’re going to long - God’s new creation – we’ve got to see it’s both certain and very, very good.
First of all it’s certain. V13 READ. God has promised this new world. And he’s made that promise throughout the Bible. The OT prophets constantly look forward to this new world – picture it and promise it. Jesus talks about this perfect world – and promises it. The apostles in the epistles – John in Revelation – describe it and repeat God’s promise.
Now after making all those promises - can we imagine God saying – I know I promised but I don’t think I’ll bother. I know I’ve promised again and again – over hundreds of years – I know I’ve given foretastes and pictures of this future in Jesus – I know I’ve shown I always keep my promises throughout Bible history – I know my son died to make this new promise possible – but I’ve changed my mind, let’s not.
It’s ridiculous isn’t it? We should feel how ridiculous that is. If we don't feel certain of this new creation – if it doesn’t feel like a reality coming towards us - we must ask what am I saying about God's promise? Am I saying he won't keep it?
God has gone on record – I promise I will perfect this world. And he’s acted in Jesus to bring it about. So after all he’s said, and all he’s done – it’s certain. We just have to wait.
But secondly - and perhaps more importantly - this new creation will be very good – perfect. V13 READ. I love that phrase – the home of righteousness. It’s the home of everything right.
We often think of righteousness in a moral sense. And that’s right - this new creation will be morally perfect - everything will be as God wants it to be – perfectly right.
But righteousness is also a relational word. Being righteous means in right relationship. So in this new creation - every relationship will be right.
Our relationship with God will be right. We’ll love him, obey him, serve him, adore him, be captivated by him.
And our relationships with each other will be right – we’ll know and love and serve, and enjoy and appreciate each other.
So what this means is - this new creation - is everything we could ever want.
If you’re anything like me you could sum up a lot of your life as a search – a search to make things right. There’s getting the right job, and living in the right place, and achieving the right goals – but actually more than that – I want to be right - do the right thing – day dream that if only I could stop doing that, and be more like this, and always do that.
And not only do the right thing – but to do the right thing – in right relationships. To treat others well – receive from them – give to them – and to be right with God – to be filled with love for him and adore him and want to praise him – and know his love for me – and be overwhelmed by that. Be filled with a sense of his amazing grace to me and care. That would be good wouldn’t it!? To get all those things right.
One day that search will be over – in the home of righteousness. We get a taste of those things now – but something always spoils it, we’re often left wanting – searching. But one day – everything will be right – and it will be all we ever wanted – and much more – everything bad in this world gone – everything good in this world perfected - the home of righteousness. It’s wonderfully good.
As we get that – as we fix our eyes on that – as we remember it’s certain and it’s good - we’ll grow in waiting – a can’t wait waiting for righteousness.
I’ve got a suggestion about all of this which might be useful, I’m not sure. My suggestion is - this week every time we notice we want something – we think if only I could have that. Or every time we notice we’re waiting – looking forward to something. We try and use that as a stepping stone – to waiting for God’s new creation.
So say we think – I wish I had a job that suited me better – groan inwardly. We can then we can say to ourselves – one day it’s going to much better than I could ever believe - I’m going to be perfectly fulfilled in my work. One day – when Jesus returns – my work and role and gifts – will be perfectly used and fulfilled.
Or maybe we think I can’t wait to go on holiday next month – we can say to ourselves – that’s a good thing to wait for – but one day it’s going to better than I could ever believe - this holiday is little a taste of what is to come and how good it is going to be in the home of righteousness.
The here and now feels so real to us – this future feels thin – so we need to keep reminding ourselves it’s certain and its good – my little suggestions is - as we want or wait for things here – we use that as a stepping stone – we keep saying to ourselves it’s going to be so much better – and we pray that it will become more real to us – and we’ll grow in waiting for righteousness – we grow in our - can’t wait - sort of waiting.
Now having said that – let’s go on to the effect this waiting has now? Peter says this waiting should lead us to keep working at righteousness.
Keep working at righteousness
Lets read v11 READ. Holy and godly lives - lives that are like God’s character - righteous lives.
Or v14 READ. Spotless and blameless – that’s how Peter describes Jesus – the lamb with blemish or spot. So he’s saying – be like Jesus – in his perfect character.
Be like God, be like Jesus – be righteous in how you live.
Now why do we do that? Peter gives two reasons – one more negative v11 READ.
Your home, your job, your car, your bank account – none of it is going to last. So why live for those things. Why make them the centre of life? Rather doing the right thing – being the right thing – that is what really matters.
Second reason is more positive – I want to focus on this – v13, 14 READ
Peter’s saying – you’re looking forward to the home of righteousness – one day being made righteous – so you are right in all you are and do - that hope – that certainty – should lead you to live right lives today.
Now how does that work? How does becoming righteous in the future - mean we work at it now?
If you said to someone – you’re going to become a billionaire – going to be given huge amounts of money – guaranteed – so what you ought to do now is earn as much money as you can. They’d probably think – why bother – I’m going to be a billionaire.
If you said to someone – you’re going to move to live in a mansion – a palace - so work at that extension to your flat. Why bother?
Why does the guarantee of something – the certain fulfilment of something – mean you work for it now?
Well money or houses aren’t the right way to think. We need something more relational.
Imagine a couple who are engaged. They are looking forward to their wedding day – to being married. Maybe it’s a can’t wait sort waiting. Marriage to them is about being united with each other – belonging to each other – exclusive – beautiful enjoyment of each other.
The bloke goes on his stag night – friend says – see that girl over there – she’s single - it’s your last chance before you get hitched – fancy a final fling?
Well – to talk like that – shows you don’t get what marriage is. What it’s about. If you understand where you’re going – if you’re looking forward to this wonderful exclusive union. Then a last fling – just doesn’t fit – to say the least.
Christians are looking forward to the home of righteousness. Being made right – in behaviour – in relationships – in every part of life. And it’s going to be wonderful – it’s going to be life itself.
As we wait – what about a quick fling – a sin or two?
Well to talk like that - shows we don’t get it. We don’t understand where we’re going –what we’re caught up in. If we see where we’re going – the home of righteousness – where like a marriage – we will belong to God – be right in ourselves and right in relationships and right with God - seeing that – being gripped by that – shows us how we live now.
As we wait for righteousness – we work at righteousness. Because we see that’s where we’re going – that’s what God is doing in us – that’s what life is about.
We fail of course – we do sin – we’re weak and we fall. The language Peter uses shows that he expects it to be hard – make every effort – this isn’t going to be easy. Going to be a struggle and you’ll fail. But God is gracious – forgives the past – and says look to the future – look where you’re going.
And as we say - one day I will be perfectly righteous in the home of righteousness - that is where I'm going, that is what I’m part of, and my life is about. As we get that - we work at righteousness.
This changes what we want now. Or what we work at.
We might want our job to be better suited to us – but Peter is saying make every effort to be righteous in the job you’ve got. We want the satisfying relationship – Peter says make every effort to be righteous in the relationships you’ve got. We might want to change our home, or situations – Peter says what really matters is being blameless and spotless in the situation we are in.
Not that changing all those things is wrong - we can do that - but what really matters is being righteous in those things.
We wait for righteousness – with a can’t wait waiting – as we do that – as we see where we’re going and what life is about - we keep working – making every effort to be righteous now.