Peter is speaking to the community as they wait for the coming of Christ and the line that precedes this passage is that the end is at hand. The early Christians genuinely believed that they would see the end times and that Jesus would return during their lifetimes. So when they were living in these communities maybe it was a little easier to endure each other with that possibility on the horizon.Now we understand that God’s time and our time do not always correspond. Today, I read a story about aid workers from Doctors Without Borders being abducted in Darfur. Last week it was the personal stories of three men, who were Defense contractors, that were rescued last year after being held captive by guerrillas in the jungles of Colombia since 2003. No one ever gave up on them. There is such love in both of these stories that it brought me to this quote. Throughout the world there are so many stories like these that we are almost desensitized to them, and decidedly so. It is hard to hear, it is hard to imagine, it is hard to process how people can live this way and yet some go on to tell the tale. How does one stare down evil? Doctors Without Borders was told to pull out the other day in response for the Sudanese president being charged, (in international court), with war crimes…but people need care and they are still there at their own risk. Letting their basic, “love for another be intense”, they are putting their lives on the line. They are simply using their gifts and being “good stewards of God’s varied grace.” Think of what it means to the people they touch? A caring hand amidst the violence? There are many agencies like them in many “hotspots” around the world, of people being “hospitable without complaining”. It truly humbles me.How can I complain about anything in my trivial little life when this goes on daily? Yes, there are valid issues for all of us but I think, every now and again, we need to get some perspective. Times may be tough but we are free. Times may be shaky we have been given “gifts to serve one another.” The key is to finding the gift that God intends us to use to help bring about an end to the stories like the one above. We can be “serious and sober for prayers.” (1Peter 4:7)God’s time and our time do not correspond. However God’s gift and the intention for their use does. Bringing about a change comes from peace that is built into each one of us and into each of our relationships. Making a difference in the way that we view our responsibility toward a more just world can help spread and strengthen that peace. Using our gifts to make a difference in the lives of our brothers and sisters near and far is a way of bringing about the kingdom of God.There is always hope. There is always the Holy Spirit that we can call on to protect those in harms way, tend to those in dire situations and lift those that need lifting. So today, in our Lenten prayer, let us call to mind all of those who love so intensely that they use their gifts in foreign lands to help be a sign of humanity amidst the inhumanity. May we help carry the burden of injustice by doing what we can to bring an end to it. May God’s varied grace bless the people they serve.
“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.” 1 Peter 4:8-10