The end of all things is at hand.
Therefore be serious and sober-minded
so that you will be able to pray. Above all, let your love for one another be intense,
because love covers a multitude of sins.
Be hospitable to one another without complaining.
As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another
as good stewards of God's varied grace.
Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God;
whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies,
so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ,
to whom belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you,
as if something strange were happening to you.
But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ,
so that when his glory is revealed
you may also rejoice exultantly. 1 Peter 4:7
The above exhortation from St Peter is systematic and gives us succinct keystones to the Christian life here on earth.
1. Orientate - we are reminded to orientate ourselves in time, space, and context, and therefore grounded in the reality of knowing that this world is coming to pass, the end of all things is at hand.
2. Pray - Being ever mindful of our end, may we continually seek out our Creator in prayer.
3. Love - The fruit of prayer ultimately is to love and love well.
4. Serve - And loving well means serving well. The natural talents and supernatural gifts that we are each given are ordered to service of another. May we not deny or bury it (for it would be an offense to the gift giver) but acknowledge and use it well.
5. Suffer - In our service, we will come to suffer, a “trial by fire” to purify and ready our souls for Heaven.
6. Rejoice - where we will exult in the presence of God because we are finally home!
An interesting paradox of rejoicing in suffering is asked of Christians. It is both difficult, and counter-intuitive. Suffering has its roots in sin and thus naturally we are not inclined to it, our original nature is repulsed by it.
However, the mystery of suffering was transformed with the Passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. What was once a consequence of sin became the eternal bridge to salvation by the sufferings of Christ? And thus, to rejoice is to rejoice in this bridge of salvation, and not for the sake of suffering or pain in and of itself. To practice this kind of joy takes much grace, but it can begin with first orientating ourselves to the end of all things.