7 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.
The End Is Nigh
Sandwich boards anyone? Do you remember the people walking the streets with ‘The End of The World is Nigh!’? They seem to be less prevalent these days. We tend to think of them as kooks: little old men with long beards who have lost some of their marbles. Was the apostle Peter one of them? Was he a deluded, sad man who was about to die expecting Jesus to come back right then? Some people think he was, but it won’t surprise you to know that I don’t. The criteria for Jesus’ return are open enough that he could come back at any moment. It is the expectation that he could come back that keeps us looking expectantly at the skies. This imminence of Jesus’ return is talked of in language like ‘he is near’, but it does not mean that the time is now. It means more that he is close; waiting in the wings.
In light of Jesus’ waiting in the wings, we should live with a sense that it would take very little for him to return. What do you want to be found doing when Jesus comes back? We have been left to steward the outpouring of God’s grace. We are ambassadors who go ahead of the royal return. If that is the case, there should be a measured gravity to our words. Then when Jesus returns he will receive the glory that he is due, because we have paved the way.
Jesus, I tend to think of the end times as increasingly hard to talk about meaningfully. Help me to live with the sense that you are near. At the Father’s command, you could return at any second. As I talk to you I see a connection between your return and the brevity of life. As I have lost a friend recently, and watched others struggle with sickness, I have thought that I should be more intentional about what years I have. As I think about your return, I have that same sense of urgency.
- What do you think Peter meant by ‘The end is near’?
- How does living in light of Jesus’ return cause Christians to live?
- Looking at the end of history, who receives the accolades?
- Whose agenda do you serve?
- If Jesus’ return is possible at any moment, how should you change your focus?
I am completely convicted with v. 11. How often do I speak as one who speaks the words of God? How often do I rely on the strength God provides when I serve? Christians need to be living on these words more than we have been.
When Christians live with the end in mind, their attitudes, thoughts, and actions look different. Peter wants Christians to know that the end is near so that we would be alert, sober-minded, be in prayer, love each other deeply, be joyfully hospitable, and serve others using our gifts. This is how we are to wait until the Lord’s return. If Jesus’ return was the focal point of my own life, I would live to make the most of each day. I can honestly say that His return (specifically) has not been consistently in my mind, but I definitely need to live in such a way.
I can’t remember where I read this recently, but anyway, I recently read a list of virtues or characteristics that are said should mark a Christian. Hospitality stuck out to me on that list and it does in this passage too.
I can be hospitable to people if it’s been planned that they’re coming over and I’m ready for them when they come, but sometimes I struggle inwardly when people spontaneously drop in, needing or wanting to talk, when I’m engrossed in something. I don’t normally complain outwardly, but that’s not to say I don’t inwardly view this person as a bother. In talking with one of my roommates recently, or perhaps it was someone on my brother floor (can’t remember again), but we spoke about wanting to be people who open our doors to others, and even if we don’t adopt children, be people who welcome and love on poor children in the neighborhood. Ideally this is a happy thought, but my selfish old man comes against this. I like time by myself and I like times with people that are uninterrupted by well, other people. 🙂
I think perhaps what it comes down to is trusting God to meet my needs. He knows that if I need more time by myself, He’ll give that to me, but if He’s asking me to welcome a certain person in to “invade” our family time or my space, He’ll give me the grace for it; my flesh won’t like it, but hey, I’m supposed to deny that everyday anyway…
Peter did not know when Jesus would return (no one knows), but he did think that it was possibly quite soon. In light of this, Peter exhorts the believers to live and speak as if they were God’s ambassadors (sound like another verse?). Our purpose is not to leave our legacy behind, make a name for ourselves, or receive honors. Our aim ought to be to live, think, and speak as we imagine God would and this being for His glory.
This is actually a timely word for me as I try adjusting to life with a new member added to my family. The stress that comes from trying to find the right balance between time with school, work, church, and family is difficult…and sometimes there are sacrifices which need to be made for the lesser priorities, something which stresses me out. But when I keep in mind the big picture, that I am living to be pleasing to God and He will someday return, it helps stay my anxieties.
I think that Peter meant the end will come at any time, not that it is soon coming in a temporal/in a few seconds. Living in light of Christ’s return should cause us to live with sober minds and focused on those things that are truly important in life, loving each other and keeping Christ at the fore of our thoughts. God will be praised through Jesus Christ at the end of all things; everything we do to serve God brings Him glory because it is by His power that we do such things.
I know that I default to serving my own agenda. For instance, on my way to PCM this week I was struck that I had not even thought of PCM as anything more than a spot on my schedule. I then prayed that God would use me to serve His kingdom and that He would help me focus on serving Him and the people I was going to, rather than focusing so much on myself.
Jesus imminent return should have me evaluate those things that I am doing and how I am using each day. There should be an urgency to evangelism and discipleship, but not at the cost of peace. I don’t think that we are meant to live in constant fear or minute waiting, such as: “Well, the Lord could return at any moment, should I even bother going to the bathroom” A ridiculous though, yes, but to try to explain the thought more fully.