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     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. 1 Pet. 4:7-10
     Dear Lord Jesus, may Peter’s words sink and settle deep into my heart. If I really believed “the end of all things is at hand”—if I really believed your return could happen within my lifetime, it seems it would make a significant difference in how I live and love.
     Whenever I attend a funeral, I always go away with a sense of my mortality and the fragility of life. At least for a few days, I hug loved ones a little tighter and linger a little longer in conversations. But then it’s “back to normal,” and the same old harried pace takes over and the same old normal patterns in relationships resume.
     Normal sinners go on loving as normal sinners do. Rather than covering sins, we get irritated with one another’s sins and talk about those sins to others; rather than welcoming one another without grumbling, we guard our own space with complaining; rather than using your gifts to serve each other, we hoard your gifts to satisfy ourselves; rather than administering your multifaceted grace to one another, we withhold it from one another. Yet “the end of all things is near.” God, have mercy on me, the sinner.
     Jesus, please bring the gospel to bear in fresh and powerful ways in my way of relating to others. I don’t want to love by fear but by faith. I don’t want to love by guilt but by grace. I don’t want to love with a heart of manipulation but with a heart of ministry. I don’t want to love with a view to another funeral but with a view of your second coming. I don’t want to love to get anything from anybody, but because everything I really need I have in you.
     Jesus, you’re the one Peter hand in mind when he wrote these words. Indeed, you’re the one who loves us deeply, like no one else would or could. You’re the one who has covered not just a multitude, but all of our sins—past, present and future.
     You’re the one who always offers us hospitality without grumbling—welcoming us into your heart and eternity. You’re the quintessential servant—lavishing upon us grace upon grace upon grace. Live in us and love through us, whether you return in fifteen minutes or fifteen hundred years. So very Amen we pray, in your strong and faithful name.

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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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