Jesus is coming! Quick look busy!
“The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 4:7-11
I wasn’t fooling anyone. I used to think that my mom had no idea that I was playing when she’d send me to clean my room. I’d play with my toys until I heard her approaching footsteps and then I’d scurry like mad to pick everything up. Surely, once she poked her head in my room and saw me cleaning she’d believe that I had been dutifully picking up the whole time. I was kidding myself. She knew the truth. My kids have revealed that to me as I see them playing the same game with me.
I send them to their room to clean and then I wait. I can hear their mad dash as I approach their room. I can hear them announce in hushed tones, “Papa’s coming!” I see their hurried breathing when I peek into their room.
In Peter’s letter to the church he gives them a list of things to do because “the end of all things is near.” Yet his instruction is not nihilistic (ie “get all you can while the getting is good”). It is not fatalistic (ie “it doesn’t matter what you do now”). Peter tells them to be observant, clear thinking, hospitable, grateful, generous with their gifts and, most of all, loving. It might seem like Peter’s exhortation to live virtuously is a last-minute instruction manual on how to get into God’s good graces before Love Divine peeks in on us.
But it’s nothing of the sort. His instructions are the stuff of heaven.
Stephen Covey’s second habit of highly effective people is to “Begin with the end in mind”. This simple tip is about imagining a future situation, or reality you want to experience, in order to start building that future in the here and now.
Peter isn’t saying, “quick, act good so you can get into heaven because it’s almost here” he’s saying, “act like heaven is here, and you’ll see heaven come to life quicker than you imagined.”
Keeping our eyes fixed on the future kingdom-come reminds us to live into it, in the present.