20190120 Sunday worship preaching
“Living as if the end is now.” (1 Peter 4: 7-11)
When we plan and proceed on something, we anticipate the work to go well as we planned without any problems in the way.
Sometimes, however, things do not work out as we planned because of obstacles and problems we don’t know how to solve.
Sometimes, we even forget why we are doing what we are doing.
We lose our sense of direction and go in the wrong way.
Sometimes, couples have a quarrel.
It usually starts with a petty problem.
However, the argument goes on, the tension grows and the contention becomes worse.
Often, they forget how they started the argument.
It is no longer important by then.
They tend to focus on what the other person just said and how it left a hurt feeling.
Whose voice was louder or who made the meaner face became more important than the problem they had in the beginning.
Later, when they think about the cause of the fight, they realize that the cause was not so bad.
The original cause has disappeared somewhere during the quarrel.
During the quarrel, they bring in more problems and it goes on to hurting each other deeply.
When things go smoothly in the beginning and then things start to falter without any further progress, we have to go back to the basics.
It's a scene from a sitcom in the past; where a man was asking who died after crying bitterly at a funeral.
He was mourning without knowing whom he was mourning for.
No matter what we do, when things start to fall apart and it adds on to more problems, we need to go back to the beginning.
If you have a problem while working, you should return to the original cause of why the problem occurred.
What was wrong? And then go back to the origin and start again.
Going back to the beginning seems to be a waste of time and seems useless, but rather than going the wrong way, going back to the original starting point is one of the ways to solve things that you can step forward from.
My mother was very good at sewing.
And she needed lots of threads.
When I was younger, my mother took me to the market occasionally and bought some threads.
Threads did not come packed well like these days, it was sold in a bundle.
After we brought the bundle of thread home, we had to wind the thread again on a stick so my mother can use it easily later.
I put my two hands through the bundle of thread and sat before my mother then she pulled the end of the thread and started to wind.
Sometimes, it gets tangled and she could no longer continue with the winding.
Then she stopped and backtracked moving back and forth to untangle the thread.
When a thread is tangled, the best way to solve it is to go back and return to the origin.
We need to find out where it got tangled, where the beginning of this thread is.
When you find the beginning, you can reverse it from the end and find out why you are tangled and how to solve it.
Sometimes we forget why we do what we do or things may get tangled up.
We forget how everything started or where you suppose to go.
In that case, it is simple.
To the very beginning of the work, you need to go back to the beginning of the work.
Our faith is the same.
When we practice our faith, sometimes we become habitual with our faith life.
The passion that we once had when we first experienced God disappeared a long time ago.
We do not experience the grace of God anymore.
We could just continue with our journey in faith as a habit.
Because we have been coming to the church regularly, people may recognize us as a churchgoer and we may think of ourselves as a churchgoer but we forgot where and how our faith started.
However, in this way, we may not achieve the maturity of our faith.
So we sometimes need to look back at the starting point of our faith we started with.
From where did our faith begin?
What is the source of our faith?
We have to practice like that to get back to it.
It is not to say that we need to retreat into the past.
Rather, it is a precious work in order to move forward and to further mature our faith.
So when we look back on our faith journey, we can find where we started and see if we are going the right way or going the wrong way.
If so, what is the source of that faith that we should look for, and to which we should return?
If someone asks what the source of our faith is, we should be able to answer.
"Our faith is the right relationship and fellowship with God and right relationship and fellowship among people.”
You should be able to answer like this.
The scripture passage of 1 Peter 4 we read today tells us that.
It is not hard to understand.
It is easy enough for anyone to understand.
But we must not forget that this word of God contains the origin of our faith.
In verse 7 it is said, "the end of all things is near..."
Because the end of all things is near, it encourages us on what we are supposed to keep for our faith by doing this and that.
As the end of all things is near it says, be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers, love each other deeply, offer hospitality to one another, serve others, and glorify God.
Then is this encouragement only valid at the end of all things?
If the end of all things does not come near yet, does it mean we do not have to live like this?
Does it mean that we can live our own way until the end comes?
No, it does not mean that way.
The meaning of the end of all things here is "to live like that is the last time ..."
When we are living our faith, we must live a life of faith as if the end is now.
It is that our faith can be made right when we are living a life of faith with such a mind that the end is near.
"If today is the end of my life, then how would I stand before the Lord..."
It is said that we should live a faith life with such a mind.
There was a campaign called "One Month to Live" in the church I was serving before.
It's not that our life is actually a month away, but it was a campaign that started with the presumption that the end of our life was near.
It was a meaningful time.
It was time for all congregants to look back on their life and faith.
If we have the opportunity, I would like to try this campaign in our church.
In such a mindful attitude, when we live with the mind that the end is near, we can look again at our life and faith to check again how we live accordingly.
Now, what is the way the Apostle Peter is telling us who are living this time?
Let's think of a few things.
What does he say first?
“Therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers.” (verse 7)
We all know well that we need to pray.
What is prayer?
Prayer is the breath of our soul.
Prayer is communication with God and fellowship with Him.
We often think of prayer as a means of asking God for something.
We think God has and if we ask God what we want, He takes it out of the treasury and delivers it to us.
But it is not.
Prayer is not about asking God for something, but a personal and spiritual fellowship between God and us.
Through prayer, we have spiritual encounters between God and us.
So we can get closer to God through prayer and realize the will of God through prayer.
So the apostle Peter encourages us to pray.
What is the next?
“Maintain constant love for one another…” ( verse 8).
Love each other… this too is what we know well.
Is there a man who has never heard of saying ‘love each other’ as a Christian?
However, the apostle Peter emphasizes love again when he began to talk about the end of all things.
If prayer is a bridge that connects God and us, love not only connects God and man, but also connects among people.
Why? It is because love covers many sins.
Love does not reveal the wrongs of others but forgives others.
So love is a tool that completes the encounter between God and us, and our encounter with each other.
Loving each other... Peter teaches us that this is the work that should be done by those who "live as if the end is near".
Then Peter continues to tell us how to love specifically in verses 9-10.
“Offer hospitality to one another without complaining. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms…” (verses 9-10)
He says that we need to serve each other.
This too is a very familiar phrase.
However, many people have difficulty in serving and serving each other.
People think that they are not good at serving. Why?
The first reason for not serving is that there is a lack of time.
People want to serve others but they don’t have time.
They are too busy.
That is why there is no space to think of others.
The second reason is that you cannot afford to serve in any way yet.
They have to study, earn money, have a lot to take care of, do something, achieve...
That is why they cannot afford to serve.
"I am still having a hard time serving… when I am done with my study then I’ll serve ... when I earn a lot of money then I’ll be able to serve... "
This is mostly what people say.
But if we live as if it is the end time, we know that we cannot postpone serving until we have more time and money.
We should not think serving is only for those who have time and money.
This is what Old Testament says.
What does it say to give to God when people offer their sacrifice?”
It says that they had to give the first fruit.
Not just the first fruit but best among the first fruits.
You cannot first take yours, eat first, profit first and what you have left is for God.
This is not what God wants.
God wants yours first.
Please do it first.
Serve first and devote first rather than give what is remaining and left.
Today's scripture passage says, “to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace…” (verse 10)
We are all stewards of God's grace.
A steward must live and work according to his master’s intention and purpose.
To be a loyal steward, each must serve with whatever gift you have received.
Brothers and sisters, love one another and serve one another.
Some people may say this.
"I am doing just fine. I am praying. I am loving. I am serving. What more should I do?”
But we have to reflect ourselves honestly.
Are you really praying earnestly?
Do you pray with a burning heart?
Are you praying for the right spiritual fellowship with God?
Also, how passionately do you love others?
How much did you forgive?
Or how sincere did you ask for forgiveness?
How about serving?
Did you really serve and volunteer from your heart?
Are you serving silently, and not showing off?
We want to look back on ourselves again.
Finally, the apostle Peter teaches us the ultimate purpose of this life.
It is for the glory of God.
The ultimate purpose of our Christian life is to expose the glory of God to this world.
We are not here to reveal ourselves.
Our life is not about proving ourselves in this world with our achievements.
How fluent your prayer sounds, how many ministries you have done, how hard you serve… are not important.
The only purpose of our lives is to reveal God and glorify God.
Brothers and sisters, living as if the end is now is a way to reflect on our faith.
It is to look back at how we continue to pray, love, and serve intently with the same inspiration we had when we first started living our faith.
It is looking again to see if we are living for the glory of God, not for revealing us.
In the meantime, if we find something wrong with our faith, we must be able to go back to the source and correct it for the first time, as we are looking for the beginning of a tangled thread.
Brothers and sisters, we need the courage to go back to the beginning of our faith.
We need this kind of reflection and restoration in our journey of faith.
Please love hard.
Please enjoy your hospitality.
And please serve our neighbor like a steward of grace.
It's so easy to say, it seems to be a very simple way, and I hope we can stand firmly on this simple way.
So I pray for you to be a truly proud and faithful worker of the Lord, all of us who live for the glory of God. Amen.