Midweek Reflection – 1 Peter 1:22-25
‘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. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.’
Peter’s stated purpose for writing is found in chapter 5:12 ‘I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.’
As we have seen, Peter is writing to Christians scattered throughout the Romans empire who are facing the real pressure in culture that is ignorant and hostile to Jesus Christ’s Lordship. They are very much strangers and yet Peter writes to encourage them with both assurance and exhortations to keep on being faithful to their Lord. In these verses, he is again encouraging them that it is because they have really been made new by God’s grace and power, that they need to keep living new lives loving each as brothers and sisters in God’s family. This exhortation to love remains so important for us as God’s people today. We have been made new in Christ. By coming to trust in Him we have been purified. We no longer live as if we are the rulers, and life and relationships revolve around us and our desires. We live as those who honour and reverence God as the Holy Father. Though the culture might encourage us to assert ourselves above others and to justify it in pursuit of our ambitions or presumed status, we have bee transformed to acknowledge God as our rightful Ruler. Furthermore, the Father who has loved us so much has sent His perfect and precious Son to die in our place. He has loved us so much to make us His own holy acceptable children despite how undeserving we are. It is because of His love that we now love Him and love especially those who are also His children through faith in Christ. Unlike the world God has changed us to love each other not because we have the same heritage or cultural backgrounds, nor because we have similar social or economic roles or positions. Our love is not to be governed by ‘our glory’. God has saved us to love each other because we are equally recipients of His love. We love and are motivated to love each other because He has loved us so generously and compassionately, and for His glory. This is what marks us out in a world where love is so often selfishly and conditional defined and applied. If we are honest, we still find it hard to love others, even those in God’s family. We therefore need to keep being reminded this is our calling and that we have the highest reason to do so. Whenever we are finding it hard or perhaps have become somewhat careless about our love for each other, we should contemplate the love of God for us. It is only in recognising and resting in God love for us that we will be desiring properly and prepared to love each other as brothers and sisters. The world often falls back on the ‘righteous’ idea that having already loved someone who is undeserving it is legitimate to treat them differently or cast them aside.
Amazingly, though perfectly justified, God did not do that to us and calls us to not think or act like the world. Instead we are called to live loving faithfully – deeply, with grace and with endurance. Notice how Peter encourages his readers. By pointing them to the faithful love of God towards us as revealed in His word (v23-25). This is the context in Isaiah 40:6-7 that Peter quotes. Despite the realities of a sin filled and failing world, and even our unfaithfulness, God’s promise of salvation has come to us. God has planned that we, though undeserving should hear His word preached to us so that we might be born again into His family. What an incredible grace! Even given modern communications, many millions do not hear the Gospel in their lifetime. Many more millions hear and do not believe. They are not born again of imperishable seed but remain only born of perishable seed. They life, suffer and die never knowing the living hope we know. They die missing out on the eternal inheritance we have been given in Christ. Fleeting happiness in people’s approval, earthly treasure, and temporary satisfaction in relationships is all they can strive for or hope in. They die never knowing the reality of the Father’s saving love. In contrast, we have come to know by His gracious love our Creator personally as our loving Father and ourselves as His children, in His blessed family. He has save us from the futility of life outside His Kingdom. In this context, suffering and even death can be faced with real hope and real joy. (1 Peter 1:3-9). So just as we do not take our bearings from the world’s words concerning loving God, so we do not take the world’s words in terms of loving each other. Let us keep daily in God’s word so that His truth might continue to instruct us in eternal wisdom and equip us in right and generous love while guarding us from self-focus in terms of relationships and ministry.
Questions: How does our culture and even sometimes Christians promote or relate in Church in ways that undermine its true identity as an expression of God’s set apart family?
Are their ideas or attitudes that you express that don’t encourage or even undermine this expression?
What things can you do to be encouraged yourself and also encourage others to relate and serve the Church family after the manner of God’s purpose and for His glory?