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Love One Another Earnestly

The Christian hope has to do with both future and present.

“For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead.” (1 Peter 4:6, NKJV) 

Peter was very much aware that we as sojourners live now in light of the life to come. He begins his letter by reminding believers of their heavenly inheritance (1:3-5) and closes by reminding them that in the big scheme of things their suffering is momentary (5:10). Temporal suffering will be swallowed up in eternal glory. 

Peter brings that sweeping perspective to bear. “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7). Peter is not merely speaking about the curtain coming down on human history. He is addressing the consummation of God’s redemptive plan (1:10-12; 2 Pet. 8-13). We live in a trajectory of glory, tasted in this life but feasted upon in the next. 

Being partakers of God’s redemption now impacts the whole of our lives. As Peter puts it in his second letter in regard to the dissolution of the old creation, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness” (2 Pet. 3:11). 

We are not to station ourselves at the window watching and waiting for the return of Jesus. Rather, we are to live out the redemptive realities that are ours in Christ. That includes our maturity and mission in Christ. We want to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18) and seek to make His name known (1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Pet. 3:9; Acts 2:38-39). 

To what in particular does Peter call us as he invokes the end of all things? He calls us to prayer and love. In respect to prayer, Peter urges us to sober watchfulness, reminiscent of Paul’s charge to the Colossians (Col. 4:2) and our Lord’s admonition in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:38). Prayer keeps our eyes on God as we sojourn in this world. 

In respect to love, we are to exercise the grace of love as an overflow of hearts filled with the love of God in the model of Jesus. Such love will promote helpfulness, healing, vitality, and unity in the power of the gospel. 

REFLECTION: The Christian hope has to do with both future and present. 

Unless noted otherwise, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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