So that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature…
2 Peter 1:4
The disciple’s journey has many transitions. Many assessments and many readjustments. Many corner-turns. Why keep going? Why keep growing? Why press on and gain knowledge? Why bother with self-control? Why be steadfast?
The Word of God wants to sustain us with…the Word of God. The promises of God are given to us so that we might find hope and energy when we feel like failures and when we feel we are at dead-ends. Peter says that these promises include this: that we will “become partakers of the divine nature.” That is, have communion, fellowship, with the essential characteristics of God.
This, Peter says, is the exact opposite of “the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
That makes sense to me. Many times I wished there were a way to put a hose into a socket on my head and flush my soul of all corruption, greed, filthiness, evil thoughts, anger, lust, sniveling fear, pride, self-absorption… you get the idea. Oh, that would be wonderful! But there’s a thick gravity that conforms me to this world—I was born and raised here, shaped by the world’s glossy magazines and billboard-promises.
What wouldn’t you give to escape this corruption? To launch into the stratosphere and breathe a purer air and see a clearer sky? To leave the muck of gross human evil and walk where angels are?
This is what God holds out to us: the divine nature. God’s experience can be our experience. How? By the power of the Spirit, using the simple message of God’s Word.
The promises of God are the antithesis to the promises of the billboards. His promises are the satiation of the desires which sin intercepts and corrupts. So when, by His Spirit, His promises enter our soul, they satisfy us. They quench the longing. They power wash the obscenities scrawled there by sin’s juvenile contempt.
For example, let's say I wake up feeling fragile, overwhelmed by the day. I feel like, "Who am I? I can't do this all!" And then I feel a desire creeping up: "Go back to bed. Grab that pint of ice cream. Binge watch some TV. Because, why bother?" But what if I woke up partaking in the divine nature? I'd feel like, "Hey, what a lot of great opportunities for God to lead me in His perfect will! I can't wait to see how He provides! God, I'm ready and willing. I'm Yours!" I'm at peace, full of hopeful energy, trusting the Lord; I'm not fragile, full of self-pity, eager to head down toward corruption.
So what made the difference? Some promises of God. The Spirit reminding me: "His energy is powerfully at work in you. (Col 1:29) All authority is His and He'll never leave your side. (Mat 28:18, 20) He wants to use you, today, in these ways, to spread the knowledge of His glory. (Hab 2:14)" With these in my mind, I experience in my outlook the very outlook God always has: perfect peace and energized love. I partake of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world, by the power of God's precious and very great promises. (2Pet 1:4)
How Hiking Helps
But it’s not just the Spirit taking the promises and raising us up. The Spirit knows that the soul only eats what the soul is hungry for. So the Spirit leads us on a journey: from faith in Jesus to love for our neighbors. You eat a lot when you’re hiking—it’s almost impossible to eat too much when you’re hiking hard in rough terrain. And the Spirit feeds us with the Word. Feeds, waters, washes, frees, enlightens, etc.: all metaphors for this emotional journey. We leave behind corruption and we enter the purity of God’s own Self—at peace, driven by love, optimistic and energetic, honest and reliable.
That sound wonderful? That’s where we’re going!
That’s what 2 Peter 1:3-12 describes: here’s this wonderful, beautiful, reality that we crave, and here’s everything we need for it, and here’s a map for the journey. There’s gold in them-there hills. High-yo, Silver! Away!
The grind of life in the flesh in the world… Sigh. But that’s not what discipleship is. It’s not the grind. It’s not another part of “the world” beefing down on us. It’s the stairs marked in red, “Escape.” So who’s talking about “you have to”? We get to! It’s a climb, sure, but what a climb! Thanks be to God for this interminable hike!
The Spirit takes the Word and satisfies the hunger that discipleship creates. The Spirit takes the Word and initiates us into the higher things, one step at a time.
I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”
Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
What attributes of God come to mind when you think of “the Divine nature”?
What would it be like to “partake” of those?
What promise of Scripture has been sweet to you lately? Why?
What corruption of the World has been tempting you lately? What promise would the Spirit like to remind you of, to counter that temptation?
How do you think of discipleship? As part of the grind of life, or as part of the upward journey?