1 Peter 4:7
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded, unto prayer.
Read the short book of 1Peter and one can readily see that Peter wrote this epistle to Christians in a very fearful and difficult place. Their crisis involved not a global pandemic and economic recession, but fierce anti-Christian persecution, which had compelled them to flee and scatter throughout the Roman empire. Thus we find that Peter prominently addresses the theme of suffering in this letter. He wants to give his dispersed flock perspective, to encourage their faith, to strengthen them to keep going, to urge them on in their God-given purpose. The Holy Spirit, who inspired Peter’s words, would through them similarly minister to us.
“The end of all things is at hand,” should hugely impact our perspective and outlook! Two thousand years have passed since He authored these words, so we know that the Spirit never intended to give us an end times time frame. (But if “the end” was “at hand” two thousand years ago, how much more “at hand” is it now!)
Rather this declaration calls us to be ever mindful that we live on the brink of the final chapter in God’s eternal plan. This fallen planet, and our fallen existence are coming to an end–will be over, forever, and in their place our eternal hope and home, for all who are Christ’s. Certainly Peter wants to remind his readers that “the end of all things” includes the end of their (and our!) present crisis, and that they (we) will get through this. But the outlook and hope to which he calls them, and us, is that of eternity, and not of this soon-to-end world.
“The end of all things is at hand,” should also impart great encouragement and endurance for our faith. It lifts the crushing burden of uncertainty and not knowing. “How much longer is this crisis going to last?” “Where is this all going?” “How is this going to play out?” Are not these and questions like them tormenters that weigh us down with so much anxiety. God may not give us these short-term answers, but He gives us answers far beyond them. He certainly wants to ease our burden of uncertainty and unknowing, but not with the lightweight comfort of knowing our upcoming temporal circumstances. Rather he gives us the much greater comfort, certainty, stability and security of knowing not only the happy ending of the whole story, but the Author and Finisher (Hebrews 12:2) of the story! True and solid comfort is found not in our foreknowing the fleeting developments of this fallen life, but in trusting and drawing near to our loving Heavenly Father.
“Therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded, unto prayer”, certainly represents a call to purposeful response in our place of crisis. Knowing that God has a good purpose in our trials completely changes their complexion. But do we see that God also wants us to move through our trials with a sense of proactive, God-assigned purpose? Is it not easy for us just to adopt a mode of hunkering down and looking and waiting for a way out of our crisis? 1Peter delineates various components of this sense of purpose in the place of suffering, but here in 4:7 he exhorts us to clear-thinking, soberheaded prayer. Certainly this is foundational to keeping us on track and rendering us fruitful.
Who will you invite today to join you in reading 1Peter and discussing what Peter writes to scattered Christians in a season of crisis, and specifically about God having a purpose for them to carry out there?