The fire of God makes all things new

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:9-13)

I am writing this is the second Sunday of Advent, on which (in the Revised Common Lectionary) there is always a passage about John the Baptist, who (like our author) announced the coming of one bringing fire to the Earth. John proclaimed that he just baptized with water, but that the one who was coming was coming to baptize with fire and Holy Spirit. John also warned that the ax was being set to any trees that were not productive, and these would be thrown into a blazing fire.

Now, one common reaction is to start feeling worried and afraid that we will not make the cut–and rightly so, I think: fire is not kind or gentle. But neither our author, nor John tell us that what God wants is for us to feel worried or afraid. What God wants is for us to “live holy and godly lives” and to “produce fruit worthy of repentance.” In fact, God provides the means for this: Jesus came with fire and Holy Spirit: Jesus came to burn away our impurities, and to empower us through his Spirit to love, joy, peace, and all the fruits of the Spirit.

So, do not worry; don’t be afraid. It may be painful, but God will burn away all of your dross. In may be very surprising and upsetting, but God will fill you with what you need to do what God calls you to. The fire of God makes all things new. God keeps promises, patiently, not slowly. Follow, and let others know the good news.