“Make every effort to support your faith” 2 Peter 1:5
It’s my turn to cook this evening, a domestic agreement we came to several years ago when my wife took on some regular late afternoon and early evening commitments.
So, first reach for the recipe books. I’m afraid I’m one of those people not adventurous enough to go it alone. Even when I’m on familiar ground, cooking something I’ve done many times before, I always have to keep the book to hand – just to check we’re still on the right lines, you understand. Very occasionally a fit of daring kicks in and I decide to vary things by seeing what happens if I substitute one ingredient for another. Live dangerously, be a bit unpredictable, why not?
I’m not sure whether it was the apostle Peter’s inner Paul Hollywood that was coming out when he wrote the second of the letters attributed to him, but he gives us there what reads like a list of ingredients in a recipe, not for a supper dish but for growing in the Christian life. Starting with the base ingredient of faith, he tells us to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection and love (the God kind).
What sort of a feast would we end up with after putting all that together? Peter makes a remarkable promise. If we can assemble all these, he says and keep adding them to the pot, then we can be sure that we shall be both productive and useful in knowing Jesus Christ.
As to where we find those ingredients in the first place, it seems to me that they are not unlike the list of fruits of the Holy Spirit that Paul gives in one of his letters to the early church. So rather than looking for some spiritual supermarket where we can survey the shelves, these ones need, by the grace of God, to be home grown.
It’s a huge struggle for many of those in our communities who live alone to sustain the enthusiasm and energy for preparing and cooking food. They so miss sharing it with someone else. That seems to give the whole thing some point and to express much more than biological necessity.
Isn’t it a bit like that with the Christian life? Yes, of course knowing Jesus brings us immeasurable personal blessing. But how much richer life can be when we begin to share with others, those who also know him and those who do not yet. Productive and useful, Peter would say.
So, how in these challenging times shall we put together these God-given life ingredients so that we can bless others?