Love from the Heart
Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.— 1 Peter 1:22 We like to think of ourselves as loving people. We try to do good and think charitable thoughts, especially at this time of year.
But even as we smile and put money into the Salvation Army kettles, we know, if we are honest, that there are people who just bug us...or hurt us...or make our lives uncomfortable. People we would just as soon live without.
But—and if you read today's verse, I think you know where this is going–that's not possible if we wish to have a relationship with God. As we worship an incarnate God, we learn to humble ourselves enough to love one another.
The quality of our spiritual life is no better than the quality of our human relationships, and the way we connect with people is a picture of our connection to God.
God is love, and in knowing Him, we cannot escape the people He puts in our lives.
Part of being born again into God's Kingdom is learning to relate to people. Peter correlates "obeying the truth" not to rules, regulations, and church rituals, but to "loving one another, deeply, from the heart."
"Your life may be morally sound and you may be a good churchgoer with all the right theology, but if the result is not a clean, free conscience overflowing with pure love, then something is wrong," writes Mike Mason.
I preach the Gospel every week. I've prayed over the sick and officiated at weddings and funerals of people I know. Sometimes I encounter hard and difficult people. That’s when I need to ask God to fill me with His Spirit, to help me see people through His eyes, to get over my own prejudices and issues. I think of the words of Peter—that living in the truth results in sincere love—and I know there is hope for my heart because God chose to come to earth and reveal His love to us.
That’s the joy of Christmas.