April 11, 2010

Willing to be Stirred Up


“Therefore I intend to keep on reminding you of these things, though you know them already and are established in the truth that has come to you. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to refresh your memory” (2 Peter 1:12‑13 NRSV).


A good part of what we need to grow spiritually is simply to be reminded of what we know. There is much to be said for learning new facts and principles, of course. But most of us already know most of what is needed for a rich relationship with God. The problem is that we don't keep in mind what we know, and we don't always do what we should about what we know.

Teachers have always known the necessity and the importance of “review.” It is almost as if our knowledge is “worn away” by the erosion of daily living and has to be refreshed. But whatever the reason for the loss of what we've been taught, learners are always having to relearn, and teachers who wish to make a lasting mark on the minds of their pupils will pay frequent attention to the renewal and reinforcement of what has been taught. “For this reason,” Peter wrote to his fellow Christians as translated by the translators of the New King James Version, “I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, . . . I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you.”

The notion of being “stirred up” is also important. Just as we need to be reminded, we also need to be nudged out of our comfort zone. The word “provoke” is not always a bad word. In fact, it's a word that describes one of our primary needs. In the New Testament, the need to be stirred up is one of the reasons for the Christian assembly: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some” (Hebrews 10:24‑25).

But even with respect to God, we aren't always willing to be reminded and stirred up, even by our friends. It is more comfortable to be left alone. Yet if we're unwilling to be warned when we need to be warned, we risk losing the very things that could contribute to true peace and comfort. There is a sense, then, in which the willingness to be “disturbed” is the main difference between those who make progress spiritually and those who do not.

Today, I am thankful to God for the awesome responsibility and privilege of reminding and stirring you up concerning the truth about Christ as revealed by God for the past thirty years. It is my prayer that my labor has not been in vain in reminding West Oakland to stay focused on living faithfully.


“From the cowardice that dares not face new truth From the laziness that is contented with half truth From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth, Good Lord, deliver me” (A Prayer from Kenya).