We have a verse before us today that was not written specifically with a new year in mind, but it surely could have been. And it answers a different question. You might be thinking, What should I do in the new year in view of all the turmoil? Buy an uninhabited island in the Pacific and move quickly? I wish you well in that, and I might even want to go along. This verse doesn’t answer the question of what you should do, but, rather, of what you should be. In the end, that is the more important question.

Here is our verse from the Webster Bible: “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found by him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14). This verse does not include the end of this compound sentence, but the second clause adds another imperative which does not have to be considered at this time. I chose the Webster Bible because it does as good a job in the translation as any without observing the word order in the Greek. Young’s Literal Translation has the exact order, and it goes like this: “wherefore, beloved, these things waiting for, be diligent, spotless and unblameable, by Him to be found in peace.”

The differences in translations here are fascinating, and you’ll notice that “found in peace” is at the end where it belongs. Webster made it more readable, as many versions do, but that changes the emphasis. So when you are reading it in the Greek, your attention is drawn to “without spot, and blameless” — that thought confronts you, before you discover what it involves. In other words, it is emphasized and, therefore, of high importance.

In Young’s accurate word order the English seems to say that one of the characteristics valued in the future in the courtroom setting is being “diligent” in general. However, the verse is actually commanding us to be diligent toward the goal of being “without spot, and blameless.”

So you should look around in society and ask yourself, What should I be in view of all this? Living on that island by yourself has its attractions, but it will also have its own set of problems. So whether you are here or there, you need to be this kind of person.

The verse begins by referencing the items Peter had just written about, namely, believers in Christ being at home in the New Jerusalem. In view of that most exciting prospect, here is what you should be. The forward look drives this rather than the view of our current circumstances.

When the text speaks of being “found by him,” the language assumes a courtroom setting in which findings are made. There you are to have exhibited being “without spot, and blameless.” Both of these words begin with a prefix meaning “not.” Without the prefix the same two words appear in 2 Peter 2:13, one chapter earlier, to describe false teachers. They are spotted and blameworthy. Actually, you may want to read chapters two and three in 2 Peter to get the whole story.

Those two descriptive concepts come out of the sacrificial system to describe acceptable animal sacrifices. If they had deficiencies of any kind, they were to be rejected--they were to be offered to the God who is high and lifted up, holy and free from any moral stain. And so here it calls us to lives of moral purity before God regardless of the mores of society.

Finally it says that you should be found in peace. The Greek word for peace in the New Testament carries over much from the Hebrew “shalom,” and so has a much broader meaning than just quietness or tranquility. It has primarily in view here a lack of hostility toward God and beyond that a normal relationship with Him; only Jesus can provide that as John 14:6 says. You need to be living in that realm. We need to remember that the most important relationship in life is the relationship with God.

It may be possible that you can do something to solve the current unrest in the country and world, but regardless you need to focus on your relationship with God. Your time here is temporary, while your relationship with God or without is eternal.

Happy New Year!

Arlie Rauch has retired from 41 years as a pastor, would like to encourage kindness, and can be reached at arlieandruth@cox.net.