Your End-Times Lifestyle
We’ve all seen the image of a street preacher on a downtown corner of a busy intersection holding a Bible in one hand and a sign in the other announcing, “The end is near!” Strange as this zealot may often appear, the reality is that the “end of the world” is a mainstream theme in our culture.
When we consider all the global unrest, violence in the Middle East, natural disasters, spread of disease, economic uncertainty, and spiritual decline, it is natural to at least wonder if we are getting close to the end. Perhaps this explains our fascination with predictions of the Mayan Calendar, hype over the Y2K debacle, or theories about the four “Blood Moons.”
In 1 Peter 4:7-11 the Apostle Peter tells us we should respond to the end times by the way we live. Rather than speculate and worry about what we cannot dictate, we should control what we can control: OUR DAILY LIVES. In addressing the “end times” the overarching biblical advice of our Lord is not to figure it out but to follow Him. Even as the Apostle John emphasized,“And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
Peter sets a PERSPECTIVE for us when he says, “The end of all things is at hand” (v. 7). He urges us to live in light of eternity and with a sense of urgency. In 2 Peter 3:8-10 he would write, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise…” Surely the conclusion of time is closer now than ever before. And, for each of us, whose lives are but a vapor, the end of our lives is very near.
Let’s look briefly at four things to PRACTICE as we regulate our lifestyle with Christ-honoring behavior that is counter to the culture in these end times.
Resolute prayer (in a self-reliant culture)
Peter begins, “Therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” Today’s culture declares in many ways, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). Even our own prayerlessness is our declaration of independence from God. Peter calls us to resolute reliance on our Lord through prayer.
Essentially, Peter says, think maturely and clearly about what really matters. Stay spiritually alert by avoiding any and all distractions. Why? So you may pray! This coincides with Paul’s commands to the church to be “watchful” and alert that they may pray (Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:2). This is to be the prevailing spirit of every congregation as well as individual Christians.
Alvin Reed defined prayer as “intimacy with God that leads to the fulfillment of His purposes.” Oswald Chambers noted, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” It seems that as the end draws nearer, Christ’s people should be growing in their resolve to be a people of prayer. Sadly, the opposite is true in many places across our nation today.
Earnest love (in an unforgiving culture)
Peter continues, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins.” The first-fruit of our prayers is love. We are called to give our full effort, like a runner stretching toward the finish line, in love for one another. Over the years, I have defined this love as, “An act of self-sacrifice, flowing from the heart, produced by the Holy Spirit for the good of others and the glory of God.”
This is vital because “love covers.” This means that real love “does not stir up, broadcast or amplify” the sins of others (see Proverbs 10:12). As Paul wrote, “Love…is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]” (Amplified). The body of Christ is plagued with a “multitude of sins” as we struggle in this fallen world, battle with our flesh, and face many trials and temptations. Yet, greater is He who loves and who lives in us than all that is in the world. The world will know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another (John 13:35).
Gracious hospitality (in an isolated culture)
Peter continues, “Be hospitable to one another withoutgrumbling.” William Barclay notes, “Without hospitality the early church could not have existed.” The early believers had no church buildings for at least 200 years and faced many forms of persecution. They relied heavily on the hospitality of one another.
Today, we live in a culture marked by the plagues of isolation and loneliness. It is imperative that we open our homes freely and frequently to care for one another. We must do so graciously, without any hint of grumbling. Author Wayne Grudem comments, “Grumbling is ultimately complaining against God and His ordering of our circumstances, and its result is to drive out faith, thanksgiving, and joy.” We must remember that our house is not OUR house. It is HIS and is to be used for His gracious designs with a generous heart.
Empowered service (in a consumer culture)
In light of the end times, Peter continues, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies.”
We live in a culture that asks, “What’s in it for me, that I can get out of my involvement at church?” True Christ followers ask, “What’s in me that others can receive from my involvement?”
First Corinthians 12:4-7 affirms that there are a variety of gifts and that God’s Spirit empowers EVERY Christian to serve in some unique way for the common good. Peter affirms that these spiritual gifts are varied and manifold. Some have been given more visible speaking gifts. Other have less visible serving gifts. Both are equally important to God and equally vital for the good of His people. Regardless of the nature of your gifts, you are under divine compulsion to be a steward of what He has given you in order to zealously serve others.
Richard Blackaby gives us another good reason to serve. He says, “If you are currently feeling sorry for yourself, serve others until the feeling goes away.”
Peter culminates with the PURPOSE of this kind of an end-times lifestyle. He writes, “that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.”
God’s glory is the ultimate purpose of all things and must be our chief aim in all our prayers, love, hospitality, and service. He is glorified when the overflow of diligent, united prayer in the church results in earnest love, gracious hospitality, and empowered service.
Peter’s conclusive affirmation is really a PROMISE. We serve a Christ “to whom belongs the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” No matter what the headlines say and regardless of the darkness of the hour, we pray, love, and serve in that assurance that Christ wins! He will have ultimate dominion over all things and throughout all of eternity.
So, let us pray to our victorious and glorious Lord, asking Him to fill us with the sufficiency of His life that we might love and serve for His glory –until He comes!
Copyright © 2014 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.