July 29, 2016 marks yet another prediction of the end of the world. This time End Times Prophecies declared that the world would come to an end on July 29 because of a chain of events caused by a “polar flip” phenomenon. This is not the first, and will certainly will not be the last, time such a prediction has been made. The Bible is clear that no one knows when the world will end and when Christ will return (Matthew 24:36). For those who affirm this biblical truth, they still can lose the biblical perspective. When it comes to speaking about the end times, Christians can tend to ensue a debate and pastors can get bogged down in the details, focusing their teaching on the order of events. The return of Christ is not meant to fire up debates on various views and it is not meant for us to figure out every single detail. Our role as Christians as we await the return of Jesus Christ is anticipation and expectation. In other words, we must be ready. We live in the midst of a fallen and sinful world. We see and face ridicule and suffering for our faith in and commitment to Jesus Christ. Why the context in which we live in the call to be ready? Because it is the context of facing suffering in a fallen world that Apostle Peter calls for how believers prepare for the end, because “the end of all things is at hand” (4:7a). Instead of entering into debates and dissecting the details, Peter tells us to “be self-controlled and sober-minded” (4:7b). The end is not a time for us to lose our control or lose perspective. Because we have the Holy Spirit as we are in Christ, we are to live differently. We are to be self-controlled because we know God is in control. We can be sober-minded because the Bible tells us where our hope in the future lies. Preparing for the end means thinking biblically, but it also means living biblically. When we hear about the end, our response should not be for our own survival. Our response should be toward others. We should continue to live out the call of a disciple, to love one another (4:8). We should be hospitable, opening up our lives to be a witness even in the context of suffering (3:15; 4:9). We live this way with the end in mind because we realize our life is not our own. We are stewards of what God has entrusted us. He has given gifts to the body of Christ. The purpose of those gifts is not to hoard them but to share them through service. Therefore, we are exhorted, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (4:10). If someone is gifted in teaching, then may they use that for the good of their church and for the glory of God. For the person who serves, may the serve with the reminder they can do so because of the strength God has given them. We do not prepare for the end by arguing or by making prediction. We prepare for the end by living in a manner that is God-glorifying and others-oriented. We live as stewards.
- Why is it important to understand the application of eschatology (‘the study of the end’)? How should that affect our conversations with others?
- How can you be a good and faithful steward of God’s grace in your life and ministry?