During the height of the cold war era a best-selling novel, On The Beach, examined the living of life at the end of the world, a world winding down due to the after effects of an accidental nuclear war. The book’s cover summary reads:
In the Northern Hemisphere, the end had come suddenly, disastrously … In the Southern Hemisphere, the end would come slowly, as radiation drifted in the wind. There would be time to prepare, time to seek solace in religion, or alcohol, or frenzied sex, or in the thing that one had always wanted to do. To drive a fast, expensive car. To buy some splendid object with one’s life savings. To consume the best bottles of wine from the cellar of one’s club. In the end, when the sickness could not be stopped, the government would issue cyanide pills to those who waited, hoping they would not have to use them, knowing they would.
As a stark contrast to Christian life and thought, the book makes for a fascinating read. The church, from the outset, has also had the end in sight, but consider Peter’s instruction from chapter 4: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded…(1 Peter 4:7)”
Clearly, neither hedonistic self-pleasure nor dark despair are to drive Christian behaviour in these last days. To Peter, all history is purposeful and ultimately directed toward glorifying God: “…in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11b)”, a glory that will be all encompassing and eternal. With God’s ends and purposes in mind: rather than drunkenness, sensuality, orgies, maligning others, and lawless idolatry (vv3,4) we live sober-mindedly, love earnestly, offer hospitality, serve one-another, and covet God’s glory. In short, to walk out life in Christ, is to walk in a “newness of life”(cf Rom 6:4). This newness of life reflects the self-giving sacrifice of Christ as we live a life oriented toward the glory of God and the service of others.
Since the church was founded we have been living in the “last days”. Just as we are not like those who “mourn without hope (1 Thes 4:13), we also do not live without hope. We live in light of the end, and we live as if each day counts; being “good stewards of God’s varied grace (v10)” serving with “the strength that God supplies (v11)”. Do you believe God? Do you believe his promise that “each has received a gift … to serve one another (v10)”? If you know your gift, for the Lord’s sake and ours, be strengthened and exercise good stewardship of it. If you don’t know your gift, be encouraged by God’s promise and seek to discover it!
Missional Action Prayer: Lord, thank you for your serving gift. Help me, by your strength, to be a good steward of it for the sake of your glory, and your body.