Love as Jesus Loved

1 Peter 1:22-2:3, Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God; for, “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever.” And this Word is the good news that was preached to you. So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

We may be the sheep of Christ, but He doesn’t treat us like pets. He loves every single one of us the same. This equal level of love cannot be superseded by any other love. He died for our sins. No one else is capable of such love. Peter is encouraging his readers that with this same kind of love, we are then able to be generous with our love for one another. Yet I’m not seeing this among us. On social media such as Facebook, there is mostly contention among believers whether it’s because of different views on politics or something else entirely. Of course, Christians aren’t the only ones guilty of this, but we are not called to be like the rest of the world. Most people, even Christians, only look out for themselves. Indeed, some serve selflessly for the less fortunate, which is a great thing, but we forget to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus has redeemed us from our sins and has welcomed us into salvation, but many of us don’t act like we’re saved. God’s salvation transforms us, yet some of us still act as if we were never saved in the first place. This is precisely the “cheap grace” Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote against. (For more on the transformative power of the Gospel, see Gilbert Meilaender’s book, Faith and Faithfulness: Basic Themes in Christian Ethicsspecifically chapter 4, “Human Nature: The Justified Sinner.”)

Therefore, Peter’s apostolic command is to throw away all feelings of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. As a newborn depends on its mother’s milk to survive and grow, so we must equally depend on Scripture for our spiritual survival and growth. When we yell at and argue with each other senselessly, that spiritual growth is hindered. This needs to stop. We are called to love one another as Jesus has loved us, for that is how people will know we are His disciples (John 13:34-35). We hardly show our love for one another, and so we should not be surprised when people want nothing to do with Christianity. They see how we treat each other, and one cannot blame them for not wanting to try Christianity, for if we who have apparently been saved by Jesus treat each other with such contention and animosity, then to them it must not work. Therefore, we all the more need to draw back to the spiritual milk of the Gospel as our dependence and growth. For only by Christ’s love can we learn how to love one another and begin to extend that same love to the lost.

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