Let yourself become open to God and the knowledge that comes from the Word. Ask God for peace at this time.
1 Peter 4:7-11 (NRSV)
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Jesus’ first followers lived in a world dramatically different from ours in many ways. For example, their political reality was emphatically not democratic. In the 1st century Roman world a few rich, powerful men ruled over everyone else. The “other 95%” had no constitutions, court systems, or checks and balances. They lived difficult, oppressed lives.
In this context, our Jewish and Christian forebears’ yearning for God’s judgment was different than the “threatening-hearers-with-hell” preaching some of us have likely heard in modern-day churches. Their longing was for a just God to bring justice to a world that was terribly unjust. As they prayed for God to do so, they also had to discern how to live as faithful disciples. Here is guidance from 1 Peter: “Above all, maintain constant love for one another…. Be hospitable to one another…. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another…” (verses 8-10). In the midst of oppression and injustice, believers are called to trust judgment to God while they love, serve, and share grace with one another.
Though our trials are different than those of first century believers, they are present and challenging: Terrorist attacks, gun violence, police shootings (by police and of police), changing economics, crumbling neighborhoods, etc. If the writer of First Peter could speak to us now, I suspect he’d say, “Times have changed, but my counsel has not. Trust judgment to God, and above all, love one another.”
O God in whom amazing grace and great justice rest side by side quite easily, may we be formed more and more into your image so that the same may be said of us. As Jesus showed us, may we understand deeply that loving one another is “above all.” Empower us to put that love into practice in the way we welcome and serve one another with grace so that we create communities where justice and compassion are “what we do.” When people and systems around us are not loving or just, enable us to trust judgment to you and your promises as we remember that love is above all. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Go with God.