"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." - 2 Peter 3:8-13
What does it mean to be biblically urgent?
I think Peter does a fantastic job describing this incredibly deep and mysterious concept. The passage above has the potential to lead into all kinds of theological debates, but I think it may be best read from the perspective of the simple. First, let's break the passage down together.
1.) God lives outside of our understanding of "time." It is clear from verse 8 that God is far above and outside of our timeline. He is the author of history, the creator of time itself. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes, "Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along: and there is room for very little in each. That is what Time is like. And of course you and I tend to take it for granted that this Time series—this arrangement of past, present, and future—is not simply the way life comes to us but the way all things really exist. We tend to assume that the whole universe and God Himself are always moving on from past to future just as we do. God, I believe, does not live in a Time-series at all."
2.) Within our understanding of time, God is extremely patient. Mankind is fallen. We live in a broken and sinful world. God has every right and every reason to fix it now. But instead, He waits. Patiently waiting, even for hundreds of years, He gives second and third and umpteen chances for a saving relationship with Jesus Christ for all those who do not believe.
3.) Within God's patience, the Day of Judgement is still coming. When it arrives, it's going to be quick. No one knows the date or time of Christ's return. It could be five seconds from now, or it could be five hundred thousand years from now. At either rate, the time to obey is now.
4.) Biblical urgency is both "waiting for" and "hastening." As Jesus-followers, we have a responsibility to share the grace we have been given, being disciples making disciples. Since time is obviously short (from God's perspective of "time"), we ought to live in "hasty" ways that overflow in radical generosity to others and faithful obedience to Jesus. But, we must also "wait for" it as patiently as God does. This waiting may mean long-term suffering for the persecuted church. This waiting may mean giving chance after chance to the neighbor who isn't responding to your invitation yet.
5.) God keeps His promises. Always. After all is said and done, at the end of days, when Jesus returns to reign as King and resurrect those believers who have perished prior to His return--"new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" are promised. Have you ever read the descriptions of what these new heavens and new earth will be like in Scripture? I highly encourage you to check out Revelation 7:9-17 and Revelation Ch. 21 and Ch. 22.
I know this biblical urgency seems like a bit of a paradox, but it is possible to attain this perspective. In an attempt to make it applicable to your daily life, here are a few suggestions.
Do you feel like you have all the time in the world to reach that neighbor/friend/coworker/family member with Gospel? You don't. Go talk to them. Plan a time to meet up and share a conversation. Pray for them fervently to come to Jesus.
Do you feel like you have no time at all to reach as many people as you possibly can? Slow down. Evangelism takes patience, and so do relationships. Take the time you need to truly listen to someone's story. Jesus changed the entire course of history and affected the entire world with only 12 close friends.
Do you find yourself somewhere in-between, perhaps with a lack of focus or lack of clarity? Focus on God's promise. Jesus is indeed coming, and the new heavens and new earth are truly as wonderful as they sound. God both promises Judgement and promises Grace. Start with your own heart by offering it to God, and work your way back out of your comfort zone sharing with those around you one by one.
One last thing. Remember what Jesus said after giving the Great Commission to us:
"I am with you always, to the end of the age."
-written by Chase Cotten, Media Director at IDES