We humans are capable of some less-than-stellar habits. One of these is procrastination. We have a deadline, and instead of pacing ourselves to meet the deadline in equal, strong bursts, we do as little as possible before the absolute last minute and apply immense pressure to ourselves to reach the demands of the deadline. This often results in poor work with no time to reflect and improve the task we were given.
Procrastination can be experienced in a spiritual sense as well. So many people, when thinking about Christ’s return, dwell on how much “living” they want to do beforehand, such as starting a family, or reaching a career goal, or traveling to exotic destinations. We think, Once I experience this, I’ll be ready for Christ’s return. If that is our first thought in light of the return of Christ, no matter how well-intentioned the above may be, we are procrastinating our kingdom work and putting our agenda first. We are no different from those in the Gospel accounts who gave Jesus excuses as to why they did not drop everything to become his disciples. It is disappointing to think about those who essentially looked into the Savior’s eyes and said there were better things on this earth than his mission. It’s just as disappointing that we, who have his Spirit, prioritize earthly things above the Lord’s will. So how do we rewire ourselves to stray from this spiritual procrastination?
A Change in Perspective
Procrastination, both physical and spiritual, seems to happen when it’s something we don’t want to do or aren’t passionate about. We don’t want to do the assignment or start the exercise plan, so we purposely avoid it in hopes that, by procrastinating, we have to spend as little time as possible doing it. We may find ourselves spiritually procrastinating in light of Christ’s return if we forget what it means.
Christ is returning. The one we pray to, the one we seek, the one we pursue, the one who has “loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), the one who sacrificed himself and all the things of this world that he might save us is coming back. We should be thrilled. If he is the very best thing in our lives, we should want more of him. If we are who we profess to be—followers of Christ—we should want more of his goodness in ourselves and in others. We should not be putting off his return. We should be looking forward to it and doing everything we can to aid in his return.
This is the perspective we find in 2 Peter 3:11, 12. Peter implores us as God’s people “to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.” It is the opposite of spiritual procrastination. Peter wants us to be in constant thought and action regarding Christ and his return. He wants us to live holy and godly lives because there are others out there who do not have the goodness that we have found in the Lord and he wants us, through our lives, to bring more people into a relationship with him. Let’s look at some practical ways we can live out 2 Peter 3:11, 12 and combat spiritual procrastination.
Holy and Godly Lives
We must be full of Christ if we are to share him with others and live holy and godly lives. This requires a rich inner life with Christ, one in which we invest ourselves in order to be filled with the goodness and knowledge of Christ. We must make the effort, by purposefully reading and dwelling on the Bible and reading the works of other Christians who have shared their journey or thoughts on faith. We must designate time, not only to speak to God through prayer, but also to quiet ourselves so that we may listen to the Spirit. And we mustn’t overlook spiritual disciplines such as fasting. We also must embrace the church in order to give us accountability and community. When we discipline ourselves to make these practices into habits, we no longer find ourselves in a state of spiritual procrastination. We actively practice and reflect on Christ while becoming stronger in him. We become vessels that are overflowing with Christ, ready to share him with the world.
Speed the Coming of the Day of God
Once we fill ourselves, it is natural to want to share the joy we find in Christ with others. But how do we share our faith in the most effective ways? It’s easy to overthink this. The best way to share Christ is to be genuine. If we are excited about something, we naturally find ways to work the subject into a conversation. We’re willing to do anything to lead someone to the same discovery. For some reason, we’re not as quick to mention Christ as we are a new hobby or restaurant. Maybe it’s the fear of being insulting or too personal. Whatever our trepidations, they must yield to the importance of leading others to Jesus.
Our enthusiasm for Christ will not only lead us to words, but also to actions. When we awake from our spiritual procrastination, we find ourselves oozing out the Gospel, wanting to live it out boldly. We want as many people as possible to come into contact with Christ through us. This happens when we listen to others, become aware of their needs, and serve them. We are intentional about our relationships. Take time now to think about someone who, if you mentioned the coming of Christ, would meet that thought with fear rather than excitement. Focus on that person in your prayer life and in your actions. Plan to spend quality time with them within the month. Intentionally show them the goodness and the freedom found in Christ. Peter promised that it would make an eternal difference.
Peter’s phrasing in verse 12 is empowering. When we lead “holy and godly lives,” not only do we get to “look forward” to the day of Christ’s return, we get to “speed its coming.” As we lead others into a relationship with Christ we’re actually participating in God’s plan for Christ’s return! In verse 9 of the same chapter, Peter declares that we don’t know or understand God’s deadline for the time of Christ’s return because he is “wanting everyone to come to repentance.” What an exciting charge Peter has given us! Let us, out of thankfulness for the goodness of Christ’s love, purposefully lead lives that fulfill that charge.
Meg Foster teaches Theatre at Elizabethton High School and French at Milligan College. Her husband is the lead minister at Bunker Hill Christian Church in Bluff City, Tennessee.