1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
Peter’s first letter is so loaded with good, important stuff! I couldn’t count how many times I’ve used verses 10 and 11 in teaching, and the same can be said for verse 17. However, this verse jumped out at me just now. Believers have been feeling “the end is near” throughout Church history, obviously since the 1st Century. That said, there are ebbs and flows in that, and recently I have been hearing it increasingly from all sides. My position, for as long as I can remember having a position, has been that for everyone alive today, the end will come in less than 100 years. I do believe in Christ’s physical return, and I have a gut-level feeling that it’s not very far off. Actually, for a long time I have felt that it would come within my natural lifetime, but the longer I live and minister, the more I feel that is largely irrelevant, since each individual is going to have to appear before God in any case. All of that said, Peter’s “Therefore” here is very much to the point. If we have an awareness that things aren’t going to last forever, and we should, then we should do everything possible to be in a right relationship with our “faithful Creator” (as he says in verse 19) right here and now. We aren’t to let our minds be cluttered with everything under the sun. That has been a danger for as long as mankind has existed, but it is all the more intense in this Information Age. And then there’s the matter of self-control. The need for that goes without saying! Right now the very things that are making so many people feel “the end is near” tend to make us anxious and preoccupied, unable to focus even on daily tasks. Politics is of course a prime example here. In the middle of it all, we need to remember that God is still God and Jesus Christ is still Lord and the Holy Spirit is still available to all believers, and rest, relax, and rejoice in that assurance.
That last sentence contains what has become my trademark phrase ever since the Lord spoke it to me: rest, relax, rejoice. Since childhood, really, I have known as theory that my relationship with God was the most important thing in my life, but I certainly haven’t acted like it the whole time. That shows the importance of translating theory into practical reality. Just as James said, I must not deceive myself! (James 1:22) I am intensely interested in many things, and it is very easy to let my mind get cluttered with countless things, from politics to health issues to the latest science fiction book I was reading. None of those things are bad, but they aren’t the chief thing, and I must never forget that. Prayer, that is, an intimate, 2-way relationship with my Creator, has got to be my top priority. I don’t spend hours on my knees, either literally or figuratively, (though that’s certainly not a bad thing) but I do live my days with an awareness of Him “in whom we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Anything that interferes with that awareness needs to be dealt with, because my relationship with Him is the only thing that’s eternal.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for speaking, “Rest, relax, rejoice” to me back in 2010. Help me follow through indeed, delighting to be Your child and Your servant, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!