“The end of all things is near, therefore be clear minded and self controlled, so you can pray. Above all else, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sin.” 1 Peter 4:7,8 (The Message)
With Thanksgiving behind us, we now launch into what is touted as “THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR.” Depending on your frame of mind this may be true or totally foreign to you.
Clearly, the Advent which is upon us should be a blessed time for we who have experienced the gift of God’s grace. All too often, the drain of the traffic and trade of the season blurs its true meaning. Our conversations become cluttered with high prices and wonder about the economic cliff that may loom ahead.
The milieu of 1 Peter has to do with persecution. Now there is a subject that we don’t talk much about. The favorite “P” word of the Western church is definitely not persecution, but rather prosperity. The audience of I Peter is a scattered group, a church on the run, trying to avoic the danger of losing their lives for Jesus’ sake.
Persecution can cause either growth or bitterness in the Christian life. Our response determines the result. Writing to the Jewish believers struggling in the midst of persecution, Peter encourages them to, “think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.” 4:12
I don’t know about you, but I have certainly not lived a life of persecution. We could all talk about an incident here and there where difficulty felt like persecution.
Clear mindedness seems in-congruent to a life of persecution. Peter makes it a precursor to effective prayer. Come to think about it, I don’t do my best praying when things are going great. The need to pray seems less urgent when I have enough money to pay the bills and realize that we have a little left over or my health, my job, my kids, etc. are doing well. “The end of all things is near” doesn’t move me nearly as much when everything is going my way. With me, clear mindedness best serves me when I am spiritually challenged.