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Sunday, August 25, 2019

1 Peter, Day 21: 1 Peter 4:7-11 - What Difference Does the End Make?


What Difference Does the End Make?

1 Peter, Day 21


The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
- 1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV


The sign says: "The End is Near" and the look in the man's eyes holding it makes you wonder if he's playing the game of life with a full deck. We've all either seen people like this or we've seen cartoons making fun of people like this. 

Yet Peter says, "the end of all things is at hand," and this is the Word of God, so we need to take it seriously. What does he mean and - perhaps even more importantly - what difference does that make to our lives? 

Peter obviously didn't mean that the end of the world was going to come within a short period of time - or else, he was really wrong, because we're still here 2,000 years later. Rather than seeing this as a time-prediction of the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus, I think it's best to see it as a declaration of two key truths: that eternity is always imminent to all of us and that the end-times kingdom of God has already broken into our reality since the resurrection of Jesus.

So, "the end of all things is at hand" echoes Christ's own declaration that "the kingdom of God is at hand." It's a call for us to live our lives with urgency and priority, focused on Christ's kingdom and eternal realities. 

What difference does it make in our lives? Peter points out four things that this reality ought to change in our lives:

1. We ought to be more "sober-minded and self-controlled."  
2. We ought to "keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins."
3. We must "show hospitality to one another without grumbling."
4. "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace."

Taken together, these four things are a call to reject the selfish and worldly pattern of life seen all around us in the world. The world says to us: "Look out for yourself and get while you can while you can." But Peter says to us: "Control your selfish desires and love one another. Show gracious hospitality to one another, and serve each other." 

Christ's kingdom will last forever, and we will be with one another forever. That means our focus should be on His kingdom - obeying Him as our king and not obeying our selfish appetites - and on loving and serving one another within His kingdom. This frees us from the selfish, short-sighted perspective of the world and calls us to a higher and better focus on things of eternal value - the kingdom of God and the children of God. 

With this perspective, we can say with Peter that we are living "in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

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