When I was way too young to be reading such literature, I was caught up in the masterful storytelling skills of Stephen King. He has an amazing ability and is very skilled at character development. What shocked me, however, was how often King would actually get into the mind of the villain. He gives us his thoughts and perspective.
What shocked me even more was how much I saw myself in these horrible characters.
As young as I was, it helped me see how few steps there were between sanity and insanity, morally neutral and outright evil. It scared me a bit. In contrast to these somewhat morbid tales, I also read heavily in the classics with characters of impeccable morals and heroic deeds. I saw in those books an ideal that I longed for–a simpler world than the world I lived in within my own mind.
The combination of those two contrasting worlds stirred up a desire for goodness in the world and in me. Too many times, I have confused my own deceitful justification for actually being in the right. The moments when I truly see myself though are depressing and discouraging.
God Is at Work
God’s Word speaks to me in those moments with a reminder of the work that He is doing within me. In 2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV), Peter says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the worked because of sinful desire.”
Those words–partakers of the divine nature–articulate my heart’s desire. I want to be good, not just convince myself that I am. And I have tried, so very hard, but the psalmist spoke true when he commented on the deceitfulness of our hearts. I can be utterly convinced that I am doing things for the right reasons. Then find out that all along I was being selfish. Fortunately, this passage explains to us how we can be truly changed.
First, Peter assures us that we have everything we need available to us.
If true life and godliness are what we desire, provision has been made. And, so typical of God–the provision comes through “knowledge of Him.” Every romantic movie can be summed up in the belief that to love someone is to truly know them. In God, this is fulfilled in a unique way, to know Him means we get to be transformed into His image. This is not the conformity for which Christianity is ridiculed–God is as multifaceted as the countless colors in our world. Instead, C.S. Lewis correctly notes: ““The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become – because He made us. He invented us.
He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own.”
As we get to know Him, the truest part of us begins to shine through. Godliness–not self-righteousness–will begin to break through.
His Divine Character in Me
Just as in any relationship, knowledge of a person comes through experience, through trust, and through intentional learning. When we walk through life with a person, we are affected by their opinions, their moods, and even their mannerisms. We can’t help but rub off on each other. It is the same with God. As we spend time in prayer and in His Word, as we walk through life practicing the presence of God, we are changed.
The second part of this verse mentions the “great and precious promises” through which we are changed. I like to view these as portals by which we come to God. Particularly when I am feeling my least lovable. I need to know that God can be accessed, and His promises are the doorway into His presence. His promises remind me that I can approach God with boldness, that He will never leave me nor forsake me, and that He will complete this work He started in me. When God is hard to find, His promises is the light that leads me home to Him.
The need to partake in God’s divine nature is most necessary in the moments I am my weakest.
I want to be a part of something pure, something divine. Occasionally, I get glimpses in nature, in art, and in family, but I don’t want these encounters to be fleeting. Instead, I want God to do a total remodeling of my heart and soul. I want to find out who I was really meant to be, before the corruption of sin that clouds and distorts. I’m clinging and I’m trusting that God’s divine character is being revealed in my life. Revealed just like a damaged masterpiece that is slowly being restored.