For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. ( 2 Peter 1:5-8)
Peter was passionate about progress.
It is not hard to speculate on where this passion might have come from. The gospels tell the story of a man whose need for progress was displayed for all to see; sinking as he started to walk on water, rebuked with “Get behind me Satan…”, falling asleep in Gethsemane, cutting of Malchus’ ear, disowning Jesus.
These experiences might have caused him to give up, hold back, slow down, hide away and yet for Peter they served not simply to highlight his limitations but more significantly to reveal Christ’s character – powerful, authoritative, devoted, compassionate, miraculous, and full of grace and truth. The combination of these chastening ‘failures’ in Peter’s life and inspirational example of Jesus, served to spur Peter on to understand that progress is central to the life of a disciple.
And yet, this cannot be taken for granted. He was one of the first disciples, one of the three, the Rock, the leader of the early church, the spokesman at Pentecost. He could easily have felt he had arrived, the job was done.
But as a follower of Jesus, Peter recognised that he, and we, never reach the destination; because the destination is to be like Christ. Not simply to believe in Christ or to have a thought or an action like Christ but to reflect His will and His ways, day in day out.
Progression is about increasing devotion, increasing worship, increasing sacrifice and increasing fruitfulness. Seeking progression in our own lives pushes us toward humility, toward dependence, toward vulnerability and towards openness. As disciple makers, striving for growth gives us clear purpose, a clear sense of direction and intention and the opportunity to see God’s ongoing transformation in the lives of those we lead and serve.