It’s a Miserable Life

My kids – who have been cranky up until Christmas because it wouldn’t come quickly enough – are now calm and sated with more gifts, candy and food than anyone ought to have.

So is their dad. I’m just pleasantly miserable with all of the holiday excess of joy and blessing.

Angi has been slaving away in the kitchen all week, preparing gourmet masterpieces. With my mom and mom-in-law visiting, we’ve watched football and half-a-dozen Christmas classics, including my perennial favorite “It’s a Wonderful Life.” (My 8-year-old daughter Laura gave me the DVD early so we could watch it together on Christmas eve.)

I’ve rotated out of teaching in the Singles class on Sunday mornings, and though I will miss that awesome energy and youth and passion, I’m eagerly anticipating my return to sitting at the feet of two beloved elders and their wives in class again.

With the Singles, I’ve put some very out-there questions before them about what comprises true doctrine, suffering, leadership and holy living. We’ve studied James and I Peter this quarter; a study which seems incomplete without II Peter, where (like the progression in “The Lord of the Rings”) the story grows darker and more threatening. I couldn’t leave the Singles class without recommending that they spend some time in II Peter during the holiday … and if they couldn’t stand a story without a satisfactory resolution, skip on to Revelation.

For in his second letter, Peter struggles with the problem of false teachers, lambasting their empty words, blasphemies, boastfulness and arrogance. (I’ve wondered if some of the Gnostic “secret knowledge” teachings discovered at Nag Hammadi were among the heresies Peter was battling.)

About those teachers, he describes a truly miserable existence:

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. – II Peter 2:20-21

It sounds like a tragic parody of the rescued George Bailey’s words from “It’s a Wonderful Life”:

“Maybe they’d have been better off if they’d never been born again. … I wish they’d never been born again.”

Whew! Now I’m really glad to rotate out of teaching for a while!

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