“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness… For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness (virtue), and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, 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 1:3, 5-8
When my grandson, Corban, was nine years old, we visited the Western Museum of Mining and Industry in Colorado Springs. We were fascinated by the large steam engines housed there that had been used in the mining industry in the early 1900’s. Each engine depended upon several McCoy oil cups to keep the engines well-oiled and functioning. Inferior copycat versions of the oil cup soon appeared, but they never measured up to the original McCoy oil cup. Mining operators soon demanded the “real McCoy” to keep their machinery in good operating condition.
Throughout human history faith often means little more than doing what is right in our own eyes. In light of that sad reality, Peter was determined to remind us of what authentic and productive faith is about—the real McCoy. Such faith is received from God through our knowledge of Him and our Savior Jesus Christ. The real McCoy ought to be revealed in increasing measure as this list of “faith additives” or qualities that Peter has described are evident.
A Different Kind of Love
The capstone of Peter’s genuine faith list is love—not as the world speaks of love, but agape love. It is a real McCoy love that pulls all the faith qualities together, and in a sense, summarizes all that has been listed before. This is a love that is as wide and genuine as God’s love. It is volitional, unconditional, the highest expression of love, the mark of authentic followers of Christ, and that which ignites our faith with power.
It is love as God has shown us through Christ, and it validates our love for God. Jesus said, “My commandment is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12), and “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (Jn 14:23). John drives home this truth in his first epistle when he says, “whoever loves God must also love his brother”.
In the arena of genuine faith, the “real McCoy” is measured, not only by our talk-talk, but by our walk-talk. Loving one another as God loves is the trademark. It so describes who we are to be in Christ, that Peter urges believers to make every effort to add these faith qualities as evidence of the real deal.
If these qualities of faith Peter has listed increasingly characterize our living, then our grandchildren—indeed, everyone in our sphere of influence—will know that our faith is the “real McCoy” rather than a cheap, useless imitation. They will be the blessed beneficiaries of an authentic faith that is effective and productive because our roots grow deep in our knowledge of Christ in whose life ours is hidden. Once again, here are those evidences of the real McCoy: virtue (goodness), knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and LOVE (agape).
So, the question before us is this. Do our grandchildren know, because of our example, that faith is more than a one-day-a-week experience? Do they see in us how faith orders our Monday mornings and every other day of the week? Without continuity between what we say we believe and how we live every day, our faith is ineffective and unproductive, and our grandchildren will know it.
Peter has given us God’s formula for faith that meets all of life head on with agape love as its capstone. Something this important should exact from us, like Peter, every effort to see that the next generations will know and remember these things long after we are gone. Let love be the capstone on a legacy of faith that is, indeed, the real McCoy!
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world is Christians who acknowledge Christ with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” -Brennan Manning.