By Michael Cooper
As a pastor, I’ve received multiple “end times” questions from church members during this pandemic. I’ve been encouraged by a few to watch “this video” and then provide my thoughts.
While COVID-19 may mimic in some ways an “end times” scenario, it doesn’t necessarily mean we should start consulting prophecy charts and self-professed eschatology experts.
It does mean we should start looking at Scripture to see how we’re to live.
Each day brings us closer to the return of Christ and the coming new creation. This is why Peter presents some specific eschatological exile ethics in 1 Peter 4:7-11.
Our Eschatological Ethic
Peter gives a series of exhortations that provide exiles a way to live in light of the end of all things. Instead of exhorting believers to prep, pack their bags, and go to the bunker, the apostle exhorts exiles to simply live like Christians.
Be alert and sober-minded in prayer.
Peter is saying we need to be focused and disciplined in our prayers. In a world of hostility, we must not be alarmed, but be calm and controlled by focusing on Christ.
Our devotion to the Lord is primary in our exile reality. As we long for the Kingdom to come, we pray it’d impact earth in the present.
Maintain love for each other and be hospitable without complaining.
This second series of ethics deal with personal relationships. Instead of withholding forgiveness, we love and provide for each other.
We seek to show unbridled love and outdo each other in showing hospitality. To sum it up: love your neighbor as yourself.
As good stewards of grace, use our gifts for service.
Here Peter discusses the two primary gifts in a local church. If you speak, speak God’s Word and if you serve, serve with God’s strength. These two gifts are intended to edify the body of Christ.
These ethics are profound. As the world is steadily bending towards the eschaton, we’re called to live within a new reality.
We don’t panic. We don’t fear. Instead, we live as exiles waiting for the arrival of the King!
The Eschatological Purpose
Finally, all of these ethics have a purpose. We live this way so God is glorified in everything through Christ. We pray, love, and serve for the glory of God.
We’ve been living in the “last days” since the first coming of Christ. And so, as we live between the already/not yet, we demonstrate the reality of the Kingdom now.
So there’s no need to fear or panic. Rather, seek to live in light of the end. This is especially true for pastors.
You can put away your prophecy charts. We don’t have time to try to “figure it all out” when our people are hurting.
Use your gifts to serve, love others, be hospitable (while social distancing), and maintain a God-glorifying devotion to our King.