The urgency of God’s work is easily lost on us. But to the early church, Jesus’ return seemed imminent. We get a sense of this urgency in Peter’s second letter, where he writes that every moment between now and when Jesus returns is a moment of grace; therefore, believers must work harder than ever to bring others to Christ and grow in their relationship with him.
Peter wrote, “Therefore, dear friends, because you are waiting for these, make every effort to be found at peace, spotless and unblemished in him. And regard the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Pet 3:14–15). God wants to see more people come to him—that is why he has not returned. When we feel like Peter’s audience does, wondering why Jesus hasn’t returned, Peter’s explanation can help us refocus and remember that it’s not really about us; it’s about others.
The Christian life is marked by a focus on God and our neighbors. The more we love him, the more we learn to love our neighbors. And the more we love our neighbors, the more we become like Christ. We get closer to God with each act of love, and each act of love brings someone else closer to him as well.
Peter continues, “Therefore, dear friends, because you know this beforehand, guard yourselves so that you do not lose your own safe position because you have been led away by the error of lawless persons. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:17–18). For Peter, the major issue is whether his audience will stay focused on Jesus or be led astray by false teachers. If the false teachers are able to sway his audience’s beliefs, then perhaps they never believed at all. By disavowing the assertions of false teachers, enduring persecution, and dedicating themselves to Christ’s grace, his audience shows their true faith.
When all of our lives are focused on God’s eternal work, the questions about priorities, how we show love, and what matters to God suddenly have answers. God’s work becomes our priority.