Back in the ’80s some
self-proclaimed prophet predicted the end of the world. He even named the date.
His announcement made the national news.
A man in our community,
faithful and active in another church, was terrified. He called me up: “Tell
your people! They’ve got to get ready!”
I asked him, “Do you
believe in Jesus?” He did.
“Do you believe Christ
died for your sins?” Of course!
“Do you trust God?”
“Then what is there to
be afraid of?”
I did throw in one
piece of free advice: “If you live every day as though it might be your last,
then you don’t have to worry if it is.”
Peter believed it was
any day now: “The end of all things is at hand” (4:7). So what was his advice?
Any special precautions?
Pray seriously. Love
one another. Practice hospitality. Use your gifts (thus our lesson title) for
one another. In everything honor God (4:7-11).
Don’t get caught up in
wrongdoing. But don’t expect to be exempt from difficulties just because you’re
a believer. Sometimes troubles come precisely because you are a believer.
Whatever happens, good or bad, trust God (4:12-19).
Now, about those church
relationships: Leaders, lead happily, gently and with integrity — no hidden
agendas or selfish motives. Followers, respect your leaders. Everybody, be
None of this looks too
out of the ordinary to me. Hard? Sometimes. We have to be intentional. But
whether it’s the last day or every day, this is how we’re supposed to live. No
other special precautions are needed.
On the Christian
calendar today is Pentecost Sunday, the fiftieth day after Easter. The Jews
were in town for the Feast of Weeks (for the seven weeks since Passover) at the
end of the spring harvest. The Holy Spirit arrived with tongues of fire and
jump-started the apostles’ preaching ministry (Acts 2). Pentecost is sometimes
called “the birthday of the church.”
Pentecost also begins a
new season of the church year called — get this — “Ordinary Time.” It stretches
for a whole half year, until Advent.
At Pentecost Peter
preached like it was the beginning. In his letter he writes like it’s the end.
And here we are, 2000 years later, in Ordinary Time.
If Peter had known it
would go on so long, would his advice be different? Probably not.
No special precautions
required: Just live each day as if it were your last. Then live the last day
like any other. You’ll be ready.