Keep Up Your Love
1 Peter 4:7-9
7 The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without complaining. (NRSV)
Many people, believers or not, talk about the End Time. Yes. We live in the End Time. Most of the major religions also believe in the End Time. However, the time and the definition are not the same.
Judaism believes the end time is when the Messiah comes. Since they (except the Christian Jews ) are still waiting for the Messiah, the end time has not started from their point. However, Christians believe the Messiah has come. Therefore, we have been living in the end time in the Judaism’s view. However, for the Christians, we believe the end time has not come yet because it starts when Jesus comes back.
The Epistle of Peter urged the disciples to be ready to face the End Time and gave the action items of what to do while we wait for Christ’s second coming. Jesus called the disciples as the body of Christ, the church. He said, “You are in Me. I am in you.” While we are waiting for His second coming, we must live together as brothers and sisters in the church.
As we live together as the church, Apostle Peter urges us to keep the 4 recommended action items here:
1. Be serious, which means fully sober in Spirit
There are two extreme groups of people on this subject.
Some Christians believe that Christ is coming back soon so that they don’t have to work or plan for the future. Actually, I was favorable to this group. I made my wife not to buy things unless they are absolutely necessary, and not to save money for the future. Later on, I realized that it was from my careless intention of applying the Biblical teaching.
I still believe we should not be greedy in saving money and possession for the future and the children. If so, what would be the proper amount to save for the future? I am not sure. I could not find the definitive answer about it. The best way is that everyone should pray about it and follow the Holy Spirit’s direction because everyone has different needs.
Another group claims, “Jesus promised His return, but He has not come back for 2000 years. How long should we wait? Probably, He may not return soon.” Then, they abuse their life to pursue the earthly pleasure. Well, that is another extreme. They excuse their wrong lifestyle and neglect the Jesus’ promise.
Our desirable attitude of waiting for the End Time is to be faithful to our family and all the work that we need to do in the grace of the Lord because, for us, to live or to die, we are His. The Holy Spirit is with us while we are in this world until we go to the eternal Kingdom. That is why the assurance of the salvation is so important because it keeps us to live with the joy and peace where we are sick or healthy, rich or poor. It is only possible when we are sober in Spirit.
2. Discipline ourselves to keep praying
While we are waiting for His second coming, we want to practice the love of Christ until we meet the Lord by praying for each other. That’s why Jesus warned His disciples in the garden of Gethsemane to keep watching and praying so that they might not enter into temptation.
As I shared before, praying is a way to build the intimacy with the Lord. At the same time, as a member of the His church, we love to pray for each other in Christ. This is a part of discipline which God wants us to practice.
We pray for each other during the Joys and Concerns time. We also pray for other members during the Thursday Bible class time. Our covenant in the hymnbook reminds us to pray for each other secretly. If you pray for the names on the back of the bulletin, that would be a secret prayer also.
When we pray, let’s not worry if our God would hear our prayer or not because He promised of hearing us. After we pray and ask, they are on His hand. We cannot do a thing. We just continue to trust His grace and mercy so that we can have peace in everyday life.
3. Keep up the love for one another
Today’s scripture says, “Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.” As we know, this is not a simple Eros love. God wants us to practice the Agape love, which will impact our family, people around us and the community, and throughout the world.
In here, the Greek word for “Maintain constant love” means “Love beyond our maximum ability or desire.” In other words, we must stretch our love beyond our intention. Of course, it is not easy at all. However, Our Lord emphasizes for us to practice this kind of Agape love. I like John’s definition of the Agape love.
“Agape … love is a love that values, esteems, respects, and honors another person because of their intrinsic value and worth. Agape love is not based on the other’s behavior, or attributes such as beauty, wealth, possessions, or intelligence. It is not based on their accomplishments or performance; and it is not based on whether they like you or not.”
I think his definition is more practical and clear, and very close to the meaning of love in the Bible. He also pointed out the characteristic of the Agape love.
“… There is no emotion involved in agape love so feelings are not required to manifest agape love. In fact, agape love will never be controlled or dominated by our feelings for the other – either positive or negative. We don’t even have to know them. We can love them all with agape love, because agape love has nothing to do with their behavior — it is all about our decision to love them. Agape love is the only reason we can love our enemy.”
This kind of Agape love covers a multitude of sins, which we may have to commit to love others even if they are against us. With the Agape love, we should be able to love and forgive the enemy and their sins. At this, we want to add not my own emotion or conditions to it, but add the compassion of Christ. If so, probably, it should be able to to love our enemy too.
Romans 5:8-9 encourages us also, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. By His blood, we are justified and saved from the wrath of God.” When we meditate that we were sinners too, we become humble and are able to love.
4. Lastly, be hospitable to one another without complaining
In here, “Be hospitable to one another” means “love of strangers or visitors.” The hospitality includes opening our home to serve other people including strangers. However, it is not easy in this generation. As John pointed out, with the Agape love, it may be possible. When we greet the visitors in the church, we still have to serve them with the genuine heart of Christ’s love. The visitors should be able to feel it. That is another way of glorifying the Lord in Christ.