"The end of all things is near,” Peter wrote to the suffering, scattered disciples across Asia Minor (1 Peter 4:7a). “Set your hope completely on the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” he encouraged them (1 Peter 1:13).
In both contexts, Peter mentions a mindset all believers need for our remaining time on earth: sober-mindedness (1 Peter 1:13, 4:7b).
Sober-mindedness is a clear-headed earnestness to apply ourselves to eternal matters. A sober-minded 2019 will mean we appropriately weigh our time in light of eternity. Peter envisions prayer, holiness, and love springing from this mindset in his letter.
Sober-minded people approach every day as if it matters. Enough time has gone by in the days of our futile pursuits (1 Peter 4:1-3). In Luke 12, Jesus employed a similar image from the Exodus story to capture this mindset when he said, “Be ready for service and have your lamps lit” (v. 35). The words translated “be ready for service” capture the literal meaning of the idiom “girding your loins.” That image is taken from Exodus 12:11, which pictures a readiness to travel in light of God’s near deliverance. The Israelites were about to be rescued from the hands of their oppressor, Egypt, and they needed to be ready to move at a moment’s notice, free from the entrapments that might slow them down. The lit lamp symbolized a posture of hopeful anticipation to escape. It was the opposite of a slumbering spirit. The girded loin meant they didn’t wear their pajamas that night. They were dressed for travel. This mindset in 2019 will mean we can’t go on as normal.
2019 matters. What would it look like to embody this sober-mindedness as a congregation this year?
In 2019, let us keep our lamps lit. Hope needs rekindling. Worldliness has a dampening effect on our souls. But God has provided a way to stay earnestly attentive to eternal matters: His Word. The Bible is fuel for our lamps. What we give ourselves to in 2019 will be directly related to how much we give ourselves to His book in 2019. Setting our hope completely on Christ’s coming will be the fruit of rich application of the Bible. What’s your plan to abide biblically in 2019? Here are some potential plans for getting through the whole Bible in a year: brookhills.org/biblereading.
In 2019, let us be attentive to one another. Following his exhortation to be sober-minded for the sake of prayer, Peter writes, "Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining” (4:8-9). Wayne Grudem comments, "Where love abounds in a fellowship of Christians, many small offences, and even some large ones, are readily overlooked and forgotten. But where love is lacking, every word is viewed with suspicion, every action is liable to misunderstanding, and conflicts abound—to Satan’s perverse delight" (1 Peter, pp. 173–4). May that thick blanket of love cover us this year. We aren’t alone in our fight to maintain our focus on eternity. How can we open our homes and be intentional to cultivate an eternal mindset in the body this year?
In 2019, let us engage in service. Back in Exodus 12, the imminent deliverance warranted extreme measures of readiness. As the end of all things draws near, Jesus knows we need the same mindset. But our "girded loins” aren’t like Israel’s. Israel waited in their home for God to act during the Passover night. They readied themselves to leave and escape. Our readiness for His return means we go from house to house, locally and globally. A girded loin portrays a diligent disciple. Faithful waiting means we busy ourselves with His work, helping others prepare for His return, not merely waiting for our deliverance. Our future is so secure in Jesus we can embrace the risks necessary to proclaim this good news to the world.
By God’s grace, much of the provision needed for us to be readied for service around the world has already been supplied as you have given to the Global Offering this month. We have prepared ourselves for service by funneling our money to support our global mission through the Global Offering. I am so encouraged by your faithfulness and couldn’t be more thankful. After these next few days of giving come to a close, and we turn into 2019, our focus shifts. Now it’s time to offer ourselves in service to the nations. The time to act is upon us. How will you serve among the nations in 2019? How will we fervently pray for the Hui? How will we raise our children to embrace God’s global cause? How will we prepare others for His return in 2019?
I need visual reminders of how important time is. A clock tower stood at the center of our city's square in Central Asia. It was built in the early 1900’s, but its architectural style dated back to the Ottoman Empire. For me, it became a symbol of how urgently the gospel needed to be proclaimed to the people there. As we moved our stuff from North Carolina to Chelsea in July, we went around the five o’clock rush hour on 280, coming in the back way to Chelsea. And there it was. Another clock tower. It towers over the trees at the entrance to Chelsea Park. Two cities, two massive clock towers. Hmm.
Carl Henry reportedly said, “The gospel is good news, if it gets there in time.”
That applies to Central Asia and to Chelsea. It’s not time to hide in our homes and wait. It’s time to proclaim what Jesus has done.
Chip currently serves as our Global Pastor. He and his wife, Rebecca, have been married 18 years and have four children: Emma (13), Owen (12), Ben (10), and Simeon (9). Prior to joining the Brook Hills team this year, they served in Central Asia for seven years.