Soren Kierkegaard told a tale about two robbers who broke into a jewelry store and simply switched all the price tags such that the fake was valued as the real and the real was assumed to be fake. He said it was the story of our age.

Years ago on the French Riviera, I walked past an extravagant yacht moored in the harbor. On the back deck sat two elderly couples in folding chairs at a card table, playing cards and laughing. Yacht: several million dollars. Pack of cards: ninety-nine cents. Laughing with friends: priceless and entirely free. Someone switched the price tags, or perhaps we never knew Valuable and worthless, Good and evil, in the first place.

You could spend all your days chasing a yacht and be miserable, or you could buy a pack of cards this afternoon and learn to laugh with your neighbor. One day the yacht will dissolve in fire, but something else will remain. One day our building will dissolve in fire, but something else will remain—perhaps even in the shape of this old building. The universe is a vessel. And so are you—part full, part empty.

“The heavens and earth that now exist are treasured up for fire,” writes Peter. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise (the promise of his parousia, his effective presence, his coming) as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing that any be lost, but that all repent to make room.” We must realize that what we think is full (like my arrogant self) may actually be empty, and what we think is empty (like unremembered acts of kindness or laughing with a friend) may actually be full…of Love, which is God, who is a Consuming Fire.

“Will there never be an end of all our ceaseless talk about the delay of the Parousia?” writes Karl Barth. “The End of which the New Testament speaks is no temporal event…. What delays it’s coming is not the Parousia but our awakening (When you wake, you repent; your mind is changed.)”

“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness,” asks Peter, “waiting for and hastening the parousia of the Day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the elements will melt as they burn! But according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells (like a man at home in his house).”

“What sort of people ought we to be?” Righteous people . . . duh! Finally, a practical application!
So . . . What is righteousness?

In chapter one, Peter gave us a list, writing, “Choreograph the Faith with the virtue… with the knowledge… with the control of self… with the steadfastness… with the godliness… with the brotherly affection… with the Love.” He refers to this as “Divine Nature (theios physis).”

It reminds me of Paul’s list: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, control of self.” He calls this the “Fruit of the Spirit” as opposed to the “works of the flesh.”

It reminds me of the list given to Moses on the mountain. Peter’s list ends with Love; Paul’s list begins with Love. All the commandments on Moses’ list, according to Moses, Peter, Paul and Jesus, can be summed up with the word “Love.” The Commandments describe Love and what Love does because Love wants to do it. If you don’t want to do it, it’s called “The Law.”

Louisiana just passed a law stating that these commandments must be posted on classroom walls, which makes sense in terms of teaching history but is profoundly strange considering that the originals were to be placed in a coffin (also translated “ark”) in the Inner Sanctuary of the Temple and covered with the blood of sacrifice and upon which stands a lamb, as if he had just been slain.
The Law was to be encased in a story of Grace, which we now call the Gospel. Otherwise, one look at The Commandments could kill you . . . or reveal that you are already dead.

It’s strange how we clamor to post the 10 Commandments on courtroom walls, but no one ever seems to suggest the same for the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are the merciful.” Jesus expounded the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, and if His exposition doesn’t leave you poor in spirit and hungering for righteousness, you must’ve been asleep. But His exposition begins with the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” All three lists describe Righteousness. Paul writes, “God has made Jesus our Wisdom and our Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption.”

Hey look! That’s Him, hanging on the tree in the middle of the garden.
Adam, humanity, Bride of Christ, how do you apply Him to your life?
Do you understand? There’s an application problem.

Imagine if on my honeymoon night, my bride said to me, “I’m going to make you my own body; I’m going to eat you like a ham sandwich!” That would make me sad. Or “I’m going to make my body your body; I’m going to dissect you, study you, and have my body surgically altered to be just like yours!” That would also make me sad. And I would suggest a better way for two bodies to become one flesh.

Bride of Christ, do you apply Him to your life, or does He apply you to His life (The Life)?
Are you building your body or are you the body being built by Him?
Do you use Him to build your house, or are you the house being built?

“Should I even try?” you ask. Of course. If an alcoholic asked, “Should I try to stop drinking?” “Of course,” I would respond. “Do you think I can stop drinking?” responds the alcoholic. “No, I think you’re powerless to stop drinking, but until you try and fail, you won’t appeal to a power greater than yourself… So, I’ll remind you of sober living until you go to an A.A. meeting.”

So, I must remind us of Righteousness until we all repent and do what Peter tells us to do next: The Application. 2 Peter 3:14, “Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these (because, at least in part, you don’t have them—righteousness), be diligent to be found (which means, at least in part, you’re lost) by him (Righteousness) without spot or blemish and at peace.”
“Be diligent to be found.”

I hated English, but in 1977, I was assigned a seat next to Susan Coleman in English. That year I was never late and always lingered, striving to be found. But terrified to be found, for “What if she didn’t like what she found!?” And so, I was hard to find. It turns out that she was feeling the very same way. So, she presented a false self that hid her true self and turned out to be far more attractive to me than the blemishes and spots that were her ego. Thank God for the seating chart! I always suspected that I’d be most attracted to whatever she was hiding under those fig leaves.

Five years later, we entered a covenant. I uncovered her and then covered her with myself and then filled her with myself and she gave birth to myself — my own flesh and blood. Not a house but a home. We both lost our lives and found them. We sacrificed our psyches (selves) and became one psyche. We think sacrifice is death, and behold, it’s Life: the death of Death.

“Be diligent to be found by Him spotless and without blemish.” He is the “Lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:18). “Therefore… present your body, a sacrifice, living and acceptable,” wrote Paul.

I try to do this every morning: just sit in the awareness of the Parousia (The Effective Presence). After a time, I sometimes pray something like, “Here I am, poor in spirit. . . mourning, feeling so incredibly meek, hungry, and thirsty for righteousness . . . merciful (For who am I to condemn?), pure in heart (Now, I just want you, Jesus.) . . . Here I am, making peace (People don’t like that, Jesus.) . . . Here I am, persecuted for Righteousness’ sake . . . Here I am blessed, happy, laughing, for so they did to the prophets who were before me.” And now I suspect that it’s not me that’s praying: it’s Righteousness. His house is who I am, and we are. We are his home.

We’re experiencing some challenges as an institution. Would you simply seek to be found by Him? And when you are poured out for Him, you will know that it is Him and that “in this is Love.” And then, whatever we do will be right, and it will remain, for it is filled with Him. He is Love. And we’ll never stop laughing, for Life is a communion of sacrificial love, and we are His Body, His House, His Home.

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