Sojourning with the End in Mind

Ole is the pastor of the local Norwegian Lutheran Church; Pastor Sven is the minister of the Swedish Covenant Church across the road.  One day they are seen working together, pounding a sign into the ground, which said:  


As a car speeds past them, the driver leans out his window and yells, "Leave people alone, you Skandihoovian religious nuts!"
From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.  Shakin' his head, Rev. Ole says, "Dat's da terd one dis mornin'."
"Yaa," Pastor Sven agrees, then asks, "Do ya tink maybe da sign should yust say, 'Bridge Out'?"

There is no end to humorous stories about people declaring that "Da End iss near!"  But Peter's warning is not to be taken lightly.  "The end of all things is near" (I Peter 4:7).  Jesus promises to come again, judge all mankind and make all things new - heaven and earth will become one.  As we have already seen, Peter references this 'end' on several occasions in his first letter and in doing so he reminds us that our hope is in Jesus' return and our resurrection (1:5, 7, 13; 4:5-6).  We do not know the day when Jesus will return, but we are warned that the times preceding His coming will be difficult.  So how are we to live?  

In 2008 Debbie and I took an educational tour of Turkey and one of the most fascinating places we visited was the underground city of Derinkuyu.  The city was dug out of soft volcanic rock in the region of Cappadocia (I Peter 1:1) in the seventh and eighth centuries B.C.  Between the eight and twelfth centuries A.D. it was inhabited by Christians in during periods of fierce Arab persecution, and it was a refuge for Christians from the marauding Mongols and then the assaults of the Ottoman Turks.
How are we to live in a world that is hostile to Christians?  And what do we do in those end times when evil will increase and persecution will be widespread?  Do we retreat and live underground?  We return to the text we looked at last week, I Peter 4:7-11, but we will take a different focus.
In addition to I Peter 4:7-11, read Mark 13 and use the questions listed below to help you meditate on how to live in light of the end.  

  1. How would you summarize Peter's instructions about how to live knowing that the end is near?
  2. What would you say is the tone of Jesus' discourse in Mark 13?
  3. Do you think Jesus is concerned that we have an intellectual grasp of God's historical timetable for the consummation of his kingdom purposes?  If not, what is He concerned about?  
  4. What dangers does Jesus expose in this discourse?
  5. What hope does He hold out for His followers?
  6. What commands does He give us?  How are we to live in times before He comes again?  
  7. How might you integrate Jesus' teaching in Mark 13 and Peter's exhortations in I Peter 4:7-11? 
  8. What instruction in the passage from Peter speaks to you the most?  Why?  And what do you think you need to do about it?

God be with you, and Lord willing we will see you on Sunday!