Monday, December 16

The end is near!

Scripture: 1 Peter 1-5

1 Peter 4:7–11 The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Observation

Peter, like all of the early Christians, lived with an expectancy that Jesus could return at any moment.  Hence, he writes, “The end of all things is near.”  He was not mistaken.  That is exactly how Jesus means for us to live.  We don’t know when Jesus will come for us, or when we may die and go to Him.  So, be ready!

He then gives four “end of all things is near” instructions for us.  Simply put, they are:

1. Pray.  Be alert and sober so you can pray!  When you know something monumental is at hand, you want to be alert and ready—not schnockered!  And when that imminent event is the Lord’s coming, you want to be ready to meet Him—so pray!  Have a conversational relationship with God!

2. Love.  Love each other deeply, fervently—stretch out your love!  It’s not only important to love God, but to love people, so these two things are first (as Jesus said they should be).  

3. Welcome.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Perhaps Peter was thinking of himself and other itinerant Christians who were taking the gospel across the Empire.  They depended on the hospitality of other believers, so in one sense, the spread of the gospel depended on this hospitality.  It was missional!  But it was also simply an essential ingredient in Christian community, and that also was missional.  One of the things that distinguished the early church in the Roman world was its deep sense of love and community.  Either way, hospitality was an important part of the church’s mission.

4. Serve.  Use whatever gift the Lord has given you to serve others.  The nearness of the end wasn’t a reason to stop and sit, but to get busy and serve!  I believe that on the day before Jesus returns, He will still be calling people to new ministries.  When He returns, we want to be at our assigned tasks, not sitting around doing nothing.

Application

One of the things I’m wrestling with is the modern notion of retirement.  I’m not retiring in a year—I’m changing my role at Life Center.  I will still be working.  Will I retire someday?  I’m not sure.  If retirement means endless vacation, doing nothing—then, no, I won’t retire.  How does one retire from God’s work, God’s call, from serving Jesus?  I don’t think we do.  I may not get paid for what I do—I may become a volunteer.  But I will still be a Jesus-follower on mission with Him!

For me, “the end is near”—that is, the end of my role as lead pastor at Life Center.  But it’s not the end of my life, or the end of my ministry, or the end of my usefulness.  That’s why this section spoke to me so loudly.  The end is near: so don’t “retire”; pray, love, welcome, serve!

Prayer: Lord, help me to follow You with all my heart right to the end—whenever that is!