By Amy Lively, Crosswalk.com
Did you feel it? Scientists recently reported that Earth reached its highest average temperature in recorded history. Is this the beginning of the end? Some people believe climate change will be the end of us, or the world could end with a global pandemic like covid–19, a worldwide natural disaster such as solar flares from the sun, or nuclear or civil war. When an era like the 2020s brings chaos and calamity, people begin to talk more about eschatology—the theological study of the "end of the world" or "end times."
What we believe about the end times determines how we live in the middle. As Christians, the Bible is our final word about the ultimate destiny of humanity—and it has a lot to say. Jesus, Paul, John, and Peter all spoke about the end of the world as if it could happen at any moment. Peter wrote:
The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore . . . (1 Peter 4:7 NLT)
“Therefore” is the pivot Peter uses to swing from scary predictions to practical steps as he reveals these five surprising strategies for surviving the end of the world as you know it.
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1. Pray Mindfully
The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7 NLT)
One of the best things about Christian prayer is that we can do it anytime, anywhere, anyway. If you’re going to pray without ceasing, as we’re told in Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:17), you’ll need to pray with your eyes open and closed, your hands folded and raised, and doing dishes at the kitchen sink.
Of all the prayers recorded on the pages of our Bibles, there is one that sums up all the others, a one-size-fits-all prayer perfectly suited for every problem any one of us will ever face. This is a prayer that never fails, a wish God must always grant, and it may be the most difficult prayer you’ll ever utter. It certainly was for Jesus. He gave us these words just days before his crucifixion. He was prepared for his own end when he said,
“Father, glorify your name.” (John 12:28)
This isn’t a make-it-go-away prayer; it’s a sustain-me-through-the-pain prayer. When you come to your own end times—the end of a dream, the end of yourself—earnest and disciplined prayer will bring God’s presence, peace, and power into your storm.
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2. Love Soulfully
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 NLT)
When Peter talks about deep love, he’s not talking about your average, ordinary love; this is earnest love, unfailing, fervent love. The root word of deep is ekteinō (ek-ti-no), which means to stretch out or extend something, such as your hand. God loved us so much that he stretched out his hand and gave us his Son. Jesus loved us so much that he stretched out his arms to be nailed to the cross.
You guessed it: Peter is calling us to the kind of love that reaches out and gives something precious of itself. This kind of love is unconditional, unceasing, unwavering, and unrelenting. It’s undeserved. It’s uncomfortable love, the kind of love that stretches your heart to the breaking point as your soul loves fully. This kind of love will cost you something.
There is no way in the world you can muster up Christ’s kind of love—and that, friends, is the best news ever! This love comes from outside us, an infusion of the Holy Spirit that transforms your heart from unkind, impatient, rude, and cranky to joyful, generous, kind, and hopeful. God doesn’t expect us to manufacture a little bit of love. He doesn’t give us an impossible command to “go love everyone” and then leave us unprepared. The love he commands from us he will also pour into us!
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3. Share Cheerfully
Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. (1 Peter 4:9 NLT)
Loneliness, domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, anxiety disorders, depression, anger, insomnia, and suicide are on the increase and are only expected to rise, aided and abetted by the pandemic, economic uncertainty, job insecurity, social discord, and political upheaval. For scary seasons like this, Peter’s command is that we show hospitality to one another, and his secret ingredient is cheerfulness, a quality I sometimes sorely lack.
Let’s face it, hospitality can be hard. To share cheerfully means without grumbling or complaining and without making the whole family miserable. It doesn’t mean you have to scrub the baseboards, fold your napkins like a swan, or make a gourmet meal.
Hospitality has more to do with sharing your life than impressing your neighbor. Hospitality can happen on the sidewalk or front porch, over store-bought cookies or a can of soda. Sharing cheerfully is God’s plan to reach the world with the gospel, one neighbor at a time.
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4. Serve Gracefully
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies… (1 Peter 4:10-11 ESV)
Using our spiritual gifts to serve one another is the secret to survival during global crises and our own personal catastrophes. A spiritual gift is a supernatural ability given to each believer from the Holy Spirit for the purpose of fulfilling God’s commands.
When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, care for widows, feed the needy, welcome strangers, and visit the sick, he won’t send us into the world empty-handed. He puts tools in our hands. One of the primary ways God equips us to love and serve well is through spiritual gifts. Scripture records lists of spiritual gifts in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, and Ephesians 4:11-12.
God will also supply your needs through the gifts he’s given to others. Spiritual gifts are for giving and receiving. Peter wrote that we should serve “by the strength that God supplies,” and Lord knows, sometimes we have only a little bit of strength left. When you’re at the end of your hopes and dreams, look for others who have the gifts you need. Allowing them to serve you during a crisis lets them receive the blessing, fulfillment, and joy of using their gifts for God’s glory.
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5. Praise Joyfully
Peter’s final strategy for surviving the end of the world as you know it is to praise joyfully. Where did Peter get this plan? From Jesus, of course.
Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:30 NLT)
Wouldn’t you love to hear the voice of Jesus singing? While we don’t know the tune, we can be certain that the hymn was from Psalm 113-118. This group of Psalms is called the Hallel (haw-lail ), which means praise. It’s the root of the word hallelujah, which means “praise the Lord.” The last Hallel, Psalm 118, was traditionally sung as the Passover meal ended.
This means that on the day Jesus was betrayed, denied, accused, mocked, beaten, abandoned, rejected, scorned, and spit upon, just before he was tortured, crucified, and buried, it is likely that he sang the words of Psalm 118, which include this verse:
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24 NLT)
On the day that defines suffering more than any other, Jesus was glad. He rejoiced. Jesus knew that the Father is never so near as when we are brokenhearted and beat down. He is faithful and true, ready to give grace and mercy. He is most worthy of our praise when he walks with us through our darkest days, our toughest trials, our life-altering, earth-shaking, what-in-the-world-will-I-do moments.
You now have a toolbox full of five specific strategies you can use when you face the end of the literal world, or the disappointing end of your own hopes, dreams, and desires. When it all comes crashing down, we have no say-so over the climate, other people’s behavior, who’s in office, timelines and deadlines, financial pressures, global pandemics, and the like—but we can control how we react and respond. We don’t need to fear “the end.” Jesus is the beginning, middle, and end of our stories. The end of the world as we know it is only the beginning of knowing Jesus.
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