The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:7-11
As someone who has worked on PCPC youth staff for quite a few years, I’ve had the privilege of helping hire many two-year residents to work on our middle school and high school teams. In a recent interview with a hopeful new employee, the interviewee asked me what I thought made a strong resident. My answer was easy: an abiding relationship with God and a desire to be “all-in.” Rightfully so, the interviewee asked me to expound on what I meant by being “all-in,” to which I told him we needed people who had a passion for youth ministry, who were devoted to prayer, and who would sacrifice their time and efforts to serve the congregation to the best of their ability because, after all, it’s only a two-year program and time is of the essence.
The interviewee accepted this answer and moved on, but I did not. I started to feel convicted, wondering if I was as “all-in” as I could be in my current role. Truth be told, I quickly reconciled the feeling with the fact that I, as a permanent staff member, was not on a two-year time crunch; I even reassured myself by thinking, “coasting is normal and healthy in long-term ministry.” But, I’m here to tell you that I was wrong to have had that mindset, not only as someone who works in full-time vocational ministry, but also as a Christian who believes Jesus is coming back soon.
1 Peter 4 reminds us that we are people with a mission, a purpose, and a deadline. We are to rest along the way and lean wholly on Jesus, but we are never told to “coast” through Christianity. In fact, I would argue that believers should be the most “all-in” humans alive.
However, let me be honest with you: often when I read 1 Peter 4 I feel unable or even unworthy to live such a faithful, servant-hearted, and fervent life. Why? Well, because I’m deeply aware of my own weaknesses and failures. I long to live an “all-in” life for Jesus, and yet, I fail Him oh-so-often. Is my effort even worth it, I wonder?
In these moments of insecurity, I’m reminded of the very man who penned the Scripture we are studying: Simon Peter. You probably remember that Peter was not only one of Jesus’ disciples during His earthly ministry, but he was also one of Jesus’ best friends. We know that Peter left all that he had to follow Christ—very much a prime example of being “all-in”—but we also know that Peter did not always faithfully serve the Lord. Yet how amazing that even after Peter’s denial, the risen Christ comes to him, asking “Peter, do you love me?” and allowing Peter another chance to be “all-in.” Russ Ramsey of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville said, “That Jesus would love a man like Simon Peter bodes well us, for you and for me. …It is not our record of righteousness that matters; it is Jesus’.” We, too, are “Peters.” We fail Jesus, but we love Him and we continually try to follow Him, even in our weaknesses. Let us be a people who are quick to look to Christ’s righteousness, not our own, and strive to be imperfect, but faithful servants of Jesus each and every day.