Inspiration is a curious thing. Any of us who try to communicate creatively in any medium, whether through words or the visual arts, know what that means – and what it costs. Sometimes it just ‘flows’ – at other times, it’s like pulling teeth. We scratch around in the dust, so to speak, looking for a pebble of any shape or colour, just something we can use!
Fortunately when it comes to the good news of our faith, inspiration is much easier to find. In our passage today, St Peter, who had spent a lifetime trying to communicate the good news with everyone he met, takes us back to the things we can rely on. In fact, where he starts is by reminding us that we don’t need clever communication strategies to share our faith (v16). Why?
Well, firstly, we have the power of experience. For Peter, that was direct, first-hand eyewitness testimony. He saw God’s majesty at Jesus’ baptism (v17) and also on the mountain where Jesus was transfigured (v18). We might not have that particular experience to draw on, but nevertheless we all have personal stories of how God has been at work in our lives, which in many ways are no less real. Answered prayer, changes in our sense of wellbeing or our character, perhaps one or two miraculous interventions, or even dreams and visions.
These are the things that make our faith real, that give us authority too as ‘witnesses’, sharing what we have ourselves experienced. And these stories and testimonies are powerful. If you haven’t thought about those for a while, why not take a few minutes today? I hope you’ll find, as I do, that it never fails to lift our spirits and encourage our hearts.
Secondly, Peter also reminds us that the truth of the good news is plenty powerful enough in itself not to need ‘dressing up’. He describes it as ‘completely reliable’ and a ‘light in a dark place’ (both v19). But he also points to a deeper power, a greater inspiration. The words of the bible have power not just because they tell great truths, but because they are inspired by God. In the lovely phrase at the end of the passage, humans ‘spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit’ (v21). The bible is literally ‘God-breathed’. (For other references to this same truth, see 2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 3:7 and 10:15.)
This is yet another beautiful truth about the Spirit isn’t it? Yesterday we saw how the Spirit effected the offering of Jesus’ sacrifice to God. Today, we learn that the Spirit inspired the pages of Scripture. The Spirit’s business is everything that glorifies Jesus.
And we too can open the bible today, rejoicing that as we read God speaks to us, in Spirit-breathed words. What is He saying to you today?