Sincerely Love Other Believers

After digging deeper into what 1 Peter 1:22 says, I’m in a bit of shell shock.  It has been in the Bible all this time.  I’ve read it many times, studied and even taught it, yet just now I discovered it in a brand-new way!  Has that happened to you before?  I love it because it tells me God is alive and well, I am still learning, and He is still changing me!  PTL!  Let me share a bit of the gold I’ve just found.

Regardless of our belief of the righteousness of our new Supreme Court Justice, I have been appalled at the unjust treatment he was given, just because of his conservative interpretation of the law of our land.  Both he and Christine Ford were seriously abused for totally political purposes.  It is most sobering to think of being publicly abused and accused with virtually no corroboration or due process that our laws require.  I believe this is a snapshot of the persecution we Christians will face in coming days—and we will have far less support from national leaders.  Peter was writing to Christians living in exile and suffering even more physical persecution than Justice Kavanaugh or Christine Ford.

In brief, Peter was affirming them by pointing out perhaps the most defining mark of the initial evidence of spiritual regeneration they were living out. 1 Peter 1:22 (NIV) …you have sincere love for your brothers.  Along this line, Jesus had said, John 13:35 (NIV) By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   John wrote the same thing with different words, 1 John 2:10 (NLT2) Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. He also flipped it around and using extreme words wrote 1 John 2:11 (NLT2) But anyone who hates [has prejudice or ill will towards] another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.  It is clear.  Loving other believers is the primary fruit Jesus used that would identify an authentic believer.  Considering the factions and infighting we have in churches today this is a very sobering revelation!

It is tempting to tighten our belts and determine to try harder to show love for other believers who think differently than we do.  However, this kind of love is a fruit the Spirit of God develops within us not a result of self-discipline.  Peter is saying that one’s spiritual transformation includes the implantation of God’s love, especially for those in His family—our fellow believers.  This love grows within us as we spend serious time soaking in God’s presence.  Then, in those awkward moments when a believer offends us, all we have to do is take our eyes off our misguided expectations or bruised egos and allow His love to leak out of our spirit as …sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.

In that, Peter is compelled to go on to exhort them (and us today) to love each other deeply with all your heart 1 Peter 1:22 (NLT2).  This command indicates believers in that day, and still today, became so self-focused they restricted God’s love for their fellow believer from flowing out of them.  It is no wonder Jesus and Paul tells us to be alert.  What we cannot do through our flesh or self-discipline we CAN do by being alert in striving to increase our intimacy with Christ.   As we spend time in His presence we start believing what He believes and loving who and what He loves—even those who abuse us.

As you reflect on the revelation I have passed on to you, how has it affected you?  If you are like me on this one, my core has been challenged as well as inspired.  It inspires me to consider that He has allowed me to actually see an example of His continual life-changing work in me.  I see that as His invitation to join Him in that effort.  How about you?