1 Peter #14 1 Peter 4:7-11 Love, Pray, Give
Peter is making a pivot from how to live an exemplary life in public and private and having introduced how to conduct ourselves within the Church now is going to focus on it. What we will learn today is that within the Church we are to pray, love, and be generous with one another.
1 Peter 4:7-11 (MSG)
Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. 8 Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. 9 Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. 10 Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: 11 if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!
There is no doubt that Peter, and by association, all the Apostles, believed that Jesus would return during their lifetime. Selected for your consideration are 15 verses in the New Testament that address the Second Coming of Christ. You’ll find a list in your notes.
Matthew 16:27; Matthew 24:27; Matthew 25:31-46; Mark 14:62; John 3:2-3; John 5:28-29; John 6:39-40; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:9-11; Acts 17:31; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18 & 16-17; Hebrews 9:28; 2 Peter 3:3-15; Revelation 1:7-8 & 22:7-10
All traditional Christian groups have a teaching concerning the Second Coming. Catholics, Orthodox, Church of England, Episcopal, Lutherans, Reformed, Baptists, “Calvaryist,” “Marinerites,” and each group in the Holiness Movement which this congregation is a part of, teach the return of Christ.
There is a lot of speculation as to events that lead up to the Return and the aftermath of the Return. We’ll save that discussion for another time. Now, we will simply affirm that Jesus is coming again. Peter uses language that indicates that he expects the Second Coming to happen soon. In his Revelation of Jesus, John’s vision, Jesus says “I am coming soon” (Revelation 22:7-21). I recall a conversation with a man older than I am now, which makes him ancient at the time, who said that he expected the Lord to return within his lifetime. He died when I was 19. In the 1970’s at the height of the Jesus Movement it seemed everyone expected that the Second Coming would happen no later than 1988. I am pretty sure “soon” hasn’t happened yet.
Some folks think that Jesus and the Apostles were just mistaken about the soon part. They cite Matthew 24:36—“But the exact day and hour? No one knows that not even heaven's angels, not even the Son. Only the Father knows” (MSG).
Some folks think that “soon” is on a different time scale. They cite 2 Peter 3:8-9—"With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn't late with his promise as some measure lateness” (MSG).
Some folks think that when you bent the knee to Jesus that the infilling of the Holy Spirit is the Second Coming. It’s a stretch but Revelation 3:20 is cited: "Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you” (MSG).
Here’s what I think—ready, after years of research here is what I have come up with. I think it’s a very brilliant solution. Ready, here you go--I think Jesus is bodily returning and when He does He will set all things right. I know you’re impressed. It’s OK, just using the gifts God gave me. The “soon part,” that things are about to be wrapped up, helps me realize that there is only a limited amount of time to do the will of God in this life. Now is the time to get serious about living a devout and holy life. Now is the time to live your life to the full. Now is the time to reconcile relationships and if that just isn’t going to happen at least release the offender with forgiveness. Now is the time to tell your friends, your loved ones, and the people you see frequently that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The anticipation of the Second Coming helps me realize that days of unjust suffering and suffering, in general, are coming to an end, and that hope gives believers the power to endure. Friends “the final drama is already underway, and the last act is fast approaching” (Powers, p. 132).
In light of the time running out, isn’t it wise, if you haven’t bent the knee to the Lordship of Jesus if you haven’t acknowledged to yourself and God your sins that have created the messes in your life and kept you out of living in God’s favor, if you haven’t believed that Jesus is the only one who can turn messes into masterpieces if you haven’t committed to being a Christ follower, bending the knee, and if you haven’t asked God to receive you, that in sincerity now is the time to call out to God to save you? You don’t know how much time you have. Decide right now. Decide right now and join me in the anticipation of the Second Coming.
If the Second Coming isn’t a big deal to you, consider that your death is a certainty. We only have so much time, and we don’t know when our time is up. Be spiritually prepared for eventualities. Think it through. Jesus said this about His return—
John 6:40 (MSG)
This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time."
Decide right now. Decide right now and join me in the anticipation of life eternal, of a bodily resurrection, of life after life. Let me know what you decide.
Until things are wrapped up, Peter tells us to pray, to love, and to be generous.
Eugene Peterson who painstakingly created the paraphrased version of scripture the Message wrote “Stay wide-awake in prayer.” Stay wide-awake is not exactly accurate, be in your right mind, is closer, which for me renders the admonition to “Preserve your sanity” (Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT).
Sanity is like a personal stylist for your thoughts. It helps you sort out what's important from what's just noise. Sanity helps you avoid getting swept away by the latest fad or trend, and it keeps you from going off on the deep end with wild ideas. For the believer, sanity is like having a pair of eternity goggles that let you see what matters in life. And if you give God his proper place, then everything falls into place too. Sanity is like the ultimate organizational hack for your brain. [ChatGPT, 3Mar23] Being in your right mind, thinking like Jesus, makes your prayers effective. We also know that prayer, being one of the 7 Habits of a Disciple, is a primary means of encounter with God and therefore is a catalyst of spiritual growth.
Take these thoughts about sanity and place them in a context in which you are unjustly suffering, being told that you are a bad person, maybe a threat to society, because of your belief that Jesus is Lord. Doing good and being rewarded with evil can be crazy-making. The way a believer preserves their sanity is by practicing the 7 Habits of a Disciple. Bible reading and study, Prayer, Fellowship, Service, Worship, Obedience, and Contemplation, will keep you in your right mind. In my spiritual journey I have found fellowship, being with like-minded believers, is a great support for staying sane. Peter tells us that prayer will keep you sane. Prayer connects you with the mind of God. Sanity is doing the will of God. Amidst
persecution for your faith prayer will help you preserve your sanity because prayer helps you discern the will of God.
In difficult times we do need each other. Peter writes that Christ's followers are to maintain their love for one another, especially in troubled times. Within a congregation, there are going to be people's problems. There are going to be brothers or sisters in your Christian family that you will not get along with, maybe even you will be hurt by them. Unfortunately, the Church is full of examples of mistreatment and abuse, shooting the wounded, and judging. This happens when believers forget that loving others, especially members of the household of God (Galatians 6:10), is vitally important. Love does not deny or cover up wrongdoing, or lets things slide and not do anything about misbehavior. But love does seek to maintain the unity of the Church. Love compels us to confront problems and reconcile the personal problems we have between us. In a hostile environment, sticking together is essential for survival.
Peter is focusing on life within the Church. Pray, love, and be generous. A generous person gives out of their abundance. Peter may be reflecting to those early days in Jerusalem that we read about in Acts—
Acts 2:44-45 (MSG)
And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.
In the family of God, we have to be hospitable. In verse 9 we are reminded to be quick with a meal and with a bed if one of our own is without. It’s a simple principle if you have an abundance and see that someone you worship with is in need, you do what you can to meet that need. If the need is more than what you can do, then you ask for additional help from the others within the congregation.
Now this doesn’t mean someone gets perpetual handouts.
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 (MSG)
Don't you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? "If you don't work, you don't eat." 11 And now we're getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. 12 This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately—no excuses, no arguments—and earn their own keep.
In the context of persecuted people, there will be those who have lost jobs and lost homes because of their testimony. The Church is to take care of its own. Recall the many times you’ve heard that everything rises and falls on relationships. When relationships are good, life is good. Four key relationships need to be right for you to live your life to the full. Your relationship with God, with others, with yourself, and with the earth are those key relationships. When we consider having a right relationship with the earth it refers to all the material blessings God has entrusted us with. God is the owner of the stuff you have, and the money you make, and you are the steward. God wants you as a manager to invest His resources well and invest for the good of the Kingdom. A well-managed portfolio has enough to be generous. You are doing a good job overseeing God’s resources when you can give to others.
That’s all the time we have for this lesson. There’s more to explore and we will pick up on verse 10 next time. Until then here’s what you can put into practice right now: Pray, it will keep you sane. Love, keeps the unity of the Church. Be Generous, a wise steward gives.