The Bible is many things, but people who read it seriously could not call it boring. Some chapters are repetitive or lists of names, but as a whole the Bible is quite dramatic. In the history it tells and the characters it portrays there’s a lot of excitement. But it also reveals the drama in our own ordinary lives.
For instance, the readers of 1 Peter are told that “the end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). A few lines later they are told that a fiery trial is approaching (1 Peter 4:12). From Peter’s point of view, his readers are in between the cliff’s edge of everything ending and the raging fires of persecution. That may not be pleasant, but it is certainly not boring!
Of course the question that might come up in those circumstances is how and why to live. If they were in such a tight spot, what kind of life would be meaningful and worthwhile? That kind of question may come up for us as well, whenever we feel the chill of time passing or the dread of worsening events. If everything is going to end, is there any point to planting trees, filling out paperwork, or getting out of bed?
In between those two statements, Peter tells his readers what kind of life is worth living between the cliff and the fire. A life of prayer (v.7), love (v.8), and glorifying God (v.11) is possible and meaningful even in the hardest of times and most trying of circumstances.
Being serious and watchful in your prayers means depending on God and asking for his help. We acknowledge the alarming realities and don’t pretend they aren’t there but remember that there is something beyond all the difficulties.
Love is expressed in practice through forgiveness and hospitality (vv.8–9). There are offenses to forgive, perhaps especially in hard times. There are practical needs to be supplied. Ungrudging persistence in both is meaningful, no matter what.
Glorifying God is the greatest purpose we can have. When everything else is falling apart, the desire that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (v.11), still gives a direction to our efforts, and rescues even our shattered lives from the horror of meaninglessness.
All of that may sound fine, but it is certainly not easy. That’s why Peter includes one more key concept: grace (v.10). At the heart of a meaningful life of prayer, love, and glorifying God, is the reality of receiving from God without and beyond all our deserving. It’s God’s gift that we can live worthwhile lives between the cliff’s edge and the fire.
Rev. Ruben Zartman has been the pastor at Ebenezer Reformed Church in Shafter since 2017.
Rev. Ruben Zartman
Ebenezer Reformed Church
Pastor’s Corner – Shafter Press