In 1 Peter 4:7 Peter writes what could be the tagline of the next apocalyptic blockbuster movie: “The end of all things is at hand…”. Or, perhaps he had just driven past a 45 minute lineup to get into the local No Frills.
I don’t believe, biblically speaking, the “end times” was meant to identify humanity’s last literal generation on earth, but rather the age all Christians have found themselves in since Christ’s first advent: the age of confident Christian hope of Christ’s second advent. The phrase we translate “at hand” means to approach or draw near, and each day we live we live one day closer to Christ’s return. Naturally, since last days are urgent days, Peter wishes to focus his readers’ priorities. He writes that besides being “self-controlled and sober-minded”, there is one thing to value and strive for above all other things: to “keep loving one another earnestly (v8)”. Peter’s letter includes some of the most hopeful and encouraging theological writing in all of God’s Word. According to God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus (1.3). This new life and hope in Christ’s gospel sustains us through various trials (1:7), and ultimately obtains the outcome of our faith – the salvation of our souls (1:9). Yet this faith is not to be cherished merely for personal reasons, but exercised for the sake and flourishing of others. Peter couldn’t possibly imagine someone who is properly heavenly minded, yet no earthly good.
What does this “loving one another” look like? He calls the church to forgive sins and show hospitality to one another (vv 8-9). No one is exempt because “each has received a gift” and it is each of our responsibilities to be “good stewards of God’s varied grace (v10)”. Simply put, you have a gift that is looking for someone to bless. Regardless of the gift, all of us are called to serve with our gifts by the strength that God supplies in order that God is glorified through Jesus (v11).
As we remain in the middle of physical distancing and gathering restrictions we all need to get creative in how we can continue to love and serve one another. I rejoice in the many little ways this is done within our congregation. I know many of you are serving by shopping, delivering, donating, phoning, encouraging, teaching, and praying. Keep up the good work! Pastor Andrew and I are thankful for the ways in which our current restrictions have focused our attention upon the primary things of church ministry. We truly believe that, as a church, we will come out of this trial stronger than we were heading into it!
Missional Action Step: As a way of preparing ourselves for even more robust hospitality in the future, let me encourage you to read the best book I have read on the subject. It is called The Gospel Comes with a House Key, written by Rosaria Butterfield. God commands us to love Him and love our neighbour. This book will help you do both!