Stubborn: having or showing a dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.
As you read the New Testament and early church history, it is clear that believers in Christ where anticipating his return from the moment of his ascension to the Father. As persecution ravaged the church, Christians began to wonder if God had forgotten them, or worse, abandoned them. Peter sets out to address this in the final chapter of his second epistle. The argument/encouragement goes like this:
“Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet 3:3-4)
Peter begins by stating that people will not just question why Jesus has not returned, but they will mock those who wait for him. They will call us fools who have either been duped by a fairytale or have been lied to by a God who does not or cannot keep his promises. But “how long, O Lord?!” is a common cry of the children of God. And while Peter doesn’t give an answer or a date, he does provide a reason for God’s waiting and assures us that God can and will keep his promise.
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (vs. 9).
It is love that motivated the incarnation of Christ. It is love that drove him to the cross to die for the sins of the world. And it is love that causes God to wait that more sinners might be saved. This God who was willing to suffer and die for all, is now unwilling that any not be brought into the salvation he has won. This is the patient love of God. He is stubborn about the salvation of sinners. He will not be rushed even if his name is mocked, and the trustworthiness of his promises are called into question. God will vindicate himself on the day the great thief returns.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (vs. 10).
The day of the Lord will come like a thief because his very return is unexpected. Christ himself is also the holy thief. No one has stolen more than Christ. He has taken all the sins of the world as his own and did not ask the world’s permission. Christ broke into the world and stole away everything that separated God and man. He has done this so a world of rebels may escape the passing away of the heavens and earth and live with him forever in his new creation.
“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…” (vs. 14-15).
As we look forward to the return of our Savior, Peter encourages the church to also remain in Christ that we may be at peace and be found spotless and blameless. This must not be understood as a blamelessness of our own but rather a plea to trust the promises of God in the face of mockery and doubt. And as we wait, we consider the stubborn, patient love of God as salvation. God is not delayed; he is adding to his church.
God is not slow; he is stubborn. The second coming of Christ is slow that more people may enter the salvation of his first.