If there’s a command I’ve missed before, I’m sure not missing it now. In his letter to Christians facing persecution, the apostle Peter repeatedly issues the same command, twice in the last part of 1 Peter:
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7)
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
He also says something similar in 1 Peter 1:13. “Therefore,” he writes, “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Sober up. Be self-controlled. Stay awake, and be watchful. It’s as if we’re called to high alert. The reason, according to Peter: the end is at hand; we’re in the last stages of redemptive history. Not only that, but the devil is on the prowl.
- If we aren’t thinking about the return of Jesus, we’re living like drunks. We need to sober up.
- If we are living on our own strength, rather than living prayer-filled lives, we’re living like drunks. We need to sober up.
- If we don’t think we have an enemy who is trying to thwart the advance of the gospel, than we’re living like drunks. We need to sober up.
- If we are surprised when we suffer, we’ve underestimated our enemy. We’re under the influence, and we need to sober up.
As I’ve meditated on Peter these past few months, I’m surprised at how much I need to sober up. I’m not nearly as aware of the end as I should be. I’m not nearly as prayerful as I need to be. I’m often surprised when I suffer. I’m often mystified by why our efforts as a church are thwarted.
Peter wasn’t surprised. He offers clear, practical advice in his letter on how to deal with these things (hints: prayer, humility, more prayer, and a willingness to suffer). Please join me being sober-minded and watchful. It’s a command that Peter repeats; it’s a command we can’t afford to ignore.