Week 7 • Mariama Bundu, Barbara Hampton, Dorothy Lin, Zara Qashqaee
We are four Christian women from four countries, Sierra Leone (Mariama), Taiwan (Dorothy), Iran (Zara), and the United States (Barbara) who meet for Bible study with other Christian women from around the world. There we try to discover what the passage says, what it means, and how we can live it out. We decided to look at II Peter 3: 14 – 18 the same way.
The first thing we noticed is that Peter writes “dear friends” or “dear brother” three times in these five short verses. He had publicly disagreed with Paul on how to be saved, but they are still “dear brothers.” We must conclude that it is very important to know those we disagree with are “dear friends.” We ourselves disagree about the issue coming before Synod, but we will always call each other “dear sisters.” The love that we share across countries and cultures and beliefs is an important way we can give God glory.
The people Peter was writing to have been suffering. Peter wanted to encourage them to put their eyes on the future world because God is in control (Dorothy). For now, they can only look forward to justice and righteousness when Jesus brings the new heaven and new earth. While working for justice, we must do the same.
We also noticed the four commands Peter gives: 1) To make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with Jesus. Our lives must reflect truth and righteousness found in Scripture and in Jesus (Mariama). 2) To remember (“to put it in our hearts,” as Dorothy says) that God is patiently tolerating the evil around them so that people can be saved. We must be patient like Jesus was with the people he met (Zara). 3) To be on our guard so we won’t be carried away by errors of the lawless. If we look to Jesus, learn more about him, and act like him, nobody can fool us by twisting Scripture (Zara). The fruit of their lives will give them away. We ourselves must put away sinful acts and love like Jesus (Mariama).
Most importantly, 4) to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus. How we love this command and want to obey it together! What does it mean to us? Grace and knowledge, life and beliefs, go hand in hand. All of us emphasized our need to understand Scripture more and more, especially to understand what God wants us to do about the important issues facing us today. But knowledge without grace is not enough. The Holy Spirit will help us understand (Zara), and it is His fruit of patience and gentleness and love, which all describe Jesus, that must grow in our lives.
Dorothy summed it up: God wants us to understand truth from his Word so we know right and wrong, but if we meet someone we disagree with, we don’t hate. We should be gentle when we express the truth (like Jesus) and that way the world will know we are following him and giving God the glory.
BESers end every service by joining hands and joyfully singing the words of II Peter 3: 18: “My friends, may you grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior…To God be the glory….” It is the song of our hearts. And so we pray:
Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Thank you that you are in control over what happens at Synod. Give us your strength to live by your words. May we and all of Synod join hands in love and truthfully and joyfully sing “My friends, may you grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.” You have put this song in our hearts. May we call each other “dear friends,” thereby expressing the love of Jesus. To God be the glory. Amen.
Which of the four commands resonates most deeply with you at this time and how might you put it into practice?
Mariama Bundu (Sierra Leone)
Barbara Hampton (USA)
Dorothy Lin (Taiwan)
Zara Qashqaee (Iran)