Three times in three short verses, the apostle Peter talks about looking forward. Christians “look forward to the day of God and speed its coming” (2 Peter 3:12). “We are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth” (v. 13). Then Peter declares, “Since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him” (v. 14).
Looking forward. Don’t you like the sound of that phrase? It reminds us to be hopeful and trust the Lord as we head into the future.
Faith Appreciates the Past
We won’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been. The Christian faith is rooted in historical facts. It’s important “to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets” and the Lord’s commands given through his apostles (2 Peter 3:2). Scoffers deny God’s intervention in human affairs, forgetting that in the past God deluged the world in a great flood (vv. 3-6). History provides the theater and the stage where God acted out the drama of redemption. He intervened directly in human affairs when his Son, the Living Word, became flesh and dwelt among us. We have much to learn from the real-life stories of the Old Testament and the exciting progress of the gospel recorded in the history book we know as the book of Acts.
However, while we must learn from the past, we can’t live there. We have to keep thinking ahead. Jesus’ first-century followers were constantly looking forward. They believed in the resurrection of the dead and God’s final judgment. They believed in Jesus’ return and “the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Like Abraham, by faith they were “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10).
Faith Anticipates the Future
We need to be forward-thinking as we age. Growing older doesn’t mean we must stop dreaming and stop growing. Someone rightly advised, “Pursue your passion, not just your pension!” What new steps of faith will you take in the next season of your life?
Our families need to be forward-thinking, preparing our children and grandchildren to love God and make wise decisions in the years ahead. Married couples must bathe the future in prayer and talk openly about uncomfortable topics like aging, estate planning, even funeral wishes. “The noble make noble plans, and by noble deeds they stand” (Isaiah 32:8).
Our churches need to be forward-thinking. No matter what victories or struggles their church has experienced in the past, every congregation needs to ask: What new challenges does the Lord want us to tackle? How can we reach the next generation with the gospel and raise up new leaders? What new adventures lie ahead for our church?
Are you looking forward, or mainly just looking in the rear-view mirror? Jesus warned potential disciples not to be like a farmer who starts plowing his field and then looks back. To plow a straight furrow, the farmer must fix his eyes on what’s ahead. Living on this side of Jesus’ empty tomb, we can look forward to the future with faithful anticipation. After all, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:18).
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.