PARTICIPATING IN THE DIVINE NATURE

Our church small group just finished a study on the letters of Peter. Peter writes in a unique way because he makes so many allusions to the Old Testament but he always finishes with a New Testament twist on the ancient truths. In 2 Peter 1:4 he addresses his audience as “participants in the divine nature” and goes on to describe the challenge of cultivating a strong and Godly life. What does it mean to participate in God’s nature? Peter describes a deliberate process that started when God called us, forgave us and made us righteous in His eyes. That first step of faith did not instantly give us the disciplines and habits that make us live in ways that align with God’s character. But the potential is there.

The words Peter uses tell us to get busy developing the kinds of habits and behaviors that will remind others of God - goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, love. These are not merely abstract attributes to think about. They must be manifest in actions, attitudes, and spoken words. Like any activity of life, the more I practice the more skilled I become. Eventually, muscle (or mental) memory kicks in and I behave like Jesus would instinctually or habitually. A few years ago I started playing golf again after over thirty years absence. My golf game is far from spectacular but as a young man I was better than many my age. The guys I play with now will tell you that I am still not spectacular. But if you asked them now they would tell you (probably after some barbs) that my scores are much better now than when I first came back to golf four years ago. The muscle memory was gone. It took a couple years to develop the muscle memory again and gain some consistency. Likewise with the Christian life. We need to cultivate the mental and spiritual muscles by deliberately pursuing, through practice, these characteristics that Peter lays out. And as Peter says – these characteristics should be on the increase as we put them into practice. That it what is means to participate in the divine nature – intentional effort to increase the characteristics of God in our lives. When people look at us and see the very attributes of God – that is the divine nature. Lord, give us your divine nature so that others will see Jesus in us.

by Jim Roberts, Deacon

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