Things don’t have to be the worst they’ve ever been for us to legitimately feel like things are falling apart. Sure, other people have seen worse times, those whose cities were conquered or countries were swept by plague or lands were shriveled by drought. Yes, even today, there are many who suffer more than us: People trapped in Syria, refugees from Syria, those haunted by malaria or AIDS or dengue, those languishing in the world’s slums. Nonetheless, we encounter times when we really do feel like our society is headed the wrong way, out of our control, with no end in sight. We get legitimately discouraged. You might feel that way about politics or policing or racism or terrorism or fear or crime or individualism or debauchery or division in our time in place. I often do.
God still has a word for us in these times. In fact, you could say God especially has a word for us in these times, because so many of the people He used to write Scripture wrote in these kinds of circumstances. Take Peter, for example. He says:
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.
-1 Peter 4:12-13
Right before this, to these beloved brothers and sisters in this fiery trial, he describes what we can do even though things are falling apart:
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
“Above all,” he says, “keep loving one another earnestly.” Love is going to cover over a multitude of sins: The sins we’ve committed, the sins we’ve suffered, the sins we’re yet to see. Above all, earnestly love one another, and it’s going to make a difference, even in the middle of all this.
Helpfully, he describes the kinds of actions this “love” could entail: Show hospitality, presumably to those in need and those the world expects you to separate yourself from and those you in fact have separated yourself from. If you’re a talker, use godly words to build others up. If you’re one of those people who is always ready to serve, tap into God’s power and serve like the world has never seen. Even if these things don’t describe you, it seems that some other Spirit-enabled trait that Peter hasn’t picked as an example would describe you, because “each has received a gift.” Therefore, “use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly. This will not only cover over a multitude of sins; in a community that loves one another this way, God will be glorified in everything through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.