Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, 14 since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. – 2 Peter 1:12-15
I have a friend who has a private airplane. I’ve ridden with him on a few occasions, and thoroughly enjoy the experience. He has even let me fly the plane on a couple of occasions – from the right seat. It’s not as easy as I thought; there are needs for constant corrections and adjustments to keep on course and to “keep the metal and the earth separate” as he likes to say. He also has an autopilot in his airplane. It does all those adjustments for you; bearing, altitude, airspeed, and other important components of successful flying.
There is no autopilot, however, for the Christian faith. We may live as though there is; a life well-grounded in ritual, habit, predictable rhythms, and steady bearing. We may go years without obvious need for correction. Our investments may be doing well. Our bills may be paid. Our children are successfully launched. Our health is good, our friends are dependable. No need for course correction – so we think!
Think again. There is such a thing as mission drift; we can forget why we strive for a well-ordered life. We can lose sight of the fact that God desires us to be productive in our faith. We can be lulled into a false sense of security by a life that seems to be going well, but which places us farther and farther from depending on God. A well-ordered life may be a blessing from God. It may also be a venue for forgetting God and slowly, imperceptibly, but eventually straying from God. We fail to give thanks to God for his gifts. We absent ourselves from worship. We ignore those little warning pangs that come to mind when considering a course of action.
Peter reminds us to hold the qualities he has just mentioned in high esteem. He knows that the people to whom he was writing knew of them all. But he also knew how quickly we forget. Worship, Bible study, and fellowship are gifts from God to help us keep in mind his goodness and our calling to serve and honor him alone.