B.C.P. : Sunday After Ascension : 1 Peter 4:7-11
Last Thursday was ascension day. The celebration of a momentous event in salvation history. After Pentecost the only thing that is now left to happen in salvation history is for Jesus to return.
If you knew that Jesus was going to return in two weeks time, Sunday 10th June 2001 how would that alter the way that you lived your life between now and then ?
If we are unsure Peter tells us how we should act in today's Epistle.
1) 'be sober', referring to self-control, having a clear mind. Why should we do this ? So we can pray.
Pray for fellow Christians, pray for people to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus, pray for world leaders, pray for the needs of others and ourselves.
2) 'above all things have fervent charity': As Christians the most important thing that we should do is to love one another.
'By this shall all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another' said Jesus (John 13:35). This is evidence that we appreciate the costliness of God's love to us in Jesus, a love that should overflow to others. This will 'cover the multitude of sins'. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Christ's love has removed the barrier of sin between us and God. His love should also remove the barriers that we have with one another. After all, who are we to judge someone else ? Failure to forgive others is evidence that we have failed to realise our own sin, and God's undeserved favour to us.
3) 'use hospitality one to another without grudging'. Food, drink, homes and company are gifts from God. Therefore, they togather with every other good and perfect gift that he gives us, are to be used for him. As an expression of love for and fellowship with others. As a means of getting to know others.
Hospitality was very important in the Jewish culture. It is still very important in many parts of the world. In some African countries people would give visitors the last remaining food that they owned rather than seem inhospitable.
We are less inclined to hospitality in this country. Perhaps one of the ways we could stand out for Jesus would be to be more hospitable, almost flying in the face of our culture.
4) ' as every man hath received the gift even so minister the same one to another'. The Bible teaches that every Christian has at least one gift to be used for the life of the church. These gifts should be used for serving others in the gift and in the power that God provides. In turn this should lead to the praise and glory of God.
It is in the Bible. We say that we believe that the Bible is true. Yet a small minority of people who attend this church keep it going. We need as Christians to put the service of God further up our list of priorities, to ask God what gift or gifts he has given each one of us, to help and affirm others in the gifts they have been given, and to look for the opportunity to use them. For if God gifts, he will also provide a way of using that gift.
Today's Epistle has concentrated upon what we should do, rather than how we should do them. The how comes next week, Pentecost Sunday !
C.H.Spurgeon said : 'The fact that Jesus is to come again is not a reason for star gazing, but for working in the power of the Holy Spirit.'