I’ve been reading through the book of 1 Peter slowly, pausing to contemplate the verse or phrase that jumps out at me in each section. I’m up to Chapter 4, and what strikes home with me is this:
:”The end of all things is at hand...” 1 Peter 4:7
At the time this was written, many Christians thought that Jesus could return very soon, maybe even during their life time. Of course, this didn’t happen. Most Lutherans believe that we are in the end times now, a period which began when Christ ascended. We don’t know when the final end of things will come — it could be any minute, or it could be a thousand years from now. Our time is not God’s time.
For me personally, this phrase has a different meaning — I’m over 70 now and according to Psalm 90:
“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10
Realistically, the end of all thing things for me is near. Modern medicine has pushed our life expectancy up a bit, but not that much. Both my husband and I lost younger brothers this year — our generation is now the one that is dying off.
Now, I could find this depressing, but I don’t. I look back on my life with satisfaction and gratitude for the things I’ve accomplished, and the friends and family I’ve known. I am looking forward to seeing people who have gone before me again; I certainly yearn for that time when aches and pains, anxiety and grief, all the “toil and trouble” of life are removed. Suffering hold fear for me, but not death. It will lead to a new and better way of life.
Peter has some advice for those of us nearing the end (and really that’s everyone because life could end any minute, not matter what our age). Here’s what you and I should be doing:
*Be self-controlled and sober-minded — life is serious business
*Love one another– so much quarreling and tension will be removed this way
*Show hospitality without grumbling — everyone needs some help and understanding now and then
*Serve each other, using our gifts for the good of mankind –leave the world a little better than you found it
It’s simple, really, but important. Your time is precious. Don’t waste it — the end is near.
For more about death see:
Martin Luther on God’s Victory Over Death
death is but a dream by Christopher Kerr, MD—Book review
Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Death