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Living In Love

Today we are getting back into the book of 1 Peter. We took a bit of a break from Peter last week, as Mike brought us a message from the book of John, but today we’re getting back at it and my goal for today is to finish up this first chapter so that we can start chapter 2 next week. But in case you’ve missed the last couple messages from Peter, let me give you just a quick recap.

In this letter, Peter is writing to Christians who were really going through some really difficult times. At that time and in that part of the world, being a Christian was really not a popular thing. There were social consequences, (if not physical consequences) for pledging allegiance to King Jesus.

And we don’t know specifically what kind of trials these folks were going through, but we do know that it’s not too long after writing this letter that Peter himself is put to death for his faith. So it’s not hard to imagine some of the challenges and struggles some of these Christians might have been experiencing.

And so Peter is writing this letter with two purposes in mind. First of all, He writes to encourage those Christians as they experience these hardships and difficulties. He reminds them of the hope and the joy they have in Jesus. Peter talks about the priceless inheritance that they have to look forward to – and how they are dearly loved by God – chosen by Him to receive endless joy in his presence forever. And so that’s how Peter starts off this letter – with that encouragement.

But his second purpose for this letter is to instruct them on how live in this world until they receive their promised salvation in full. Peter mentions frequently how they are exiles or foreigners or temporary residents – and perhaps some of Peter’s original audience were literally exiled from their homeland because of persecution, but certainly every Christian both then and today – no matter where we are in the world – we understand that this world is not our home. We are citizens of heaven – and thus we are all exiles and foreigners.

Jesus Himself even said in John chapter 17, that even though we are in this world, we are not of this world. So the question is how should we live as exiles or foreigners (or as some translations put it – as aliens) in this world?

We know that God has us here for a reason – so how does He want us to live? Well, Peter’s second purpose in writing this letter is to answer to that question – and in fact, that answer makes up the bulk of this letter.

We started into that part two weeks ago as Peter urged us to be holy as God is holy. Since we have been adopted into God’s family – we need to live as his children. We need to live like Him – like Father like son. That means that we must be holy in every thing we do – not slipping back into our old sinful ways of living to satisfy ourselves – but living to please God. Peter reminds us that God paid an incredible price to free us from our sin – so how could we just disregard his great sacrifice and continue to live as slaves to sin? No, we must live in reverent fear of God – being holy as He is holy.

So that was two weeks ago. And this week, Peter is going to continue building on that same idea. Because God has paid such a great price for us – because God has such a wonderful future in store for us – because God loves us and has adopted us into his family – here’s how we should live today. And so we’re going to pick it up at 1 Peter chapter 1, verse 21.

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;

    their beauty is like a flower in the field.

The grass withers and the flower fades.

25  But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:21-25

Now there is a lot of stuff in that passage that we could talk about, but there is one clear instruction in here that Peter gives to his readers and that’s what I want to focus on today. Peter begins this final section of chapter one by urging these Christians to love each other deeply, as brothers and sisters!

Verse 22 says:

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. 1 Peter 1:22

And this should almost go without saying. Remember, Peter has already told them to be holy as God is holy and to live as his obedience children and to live in reverent fear of the Lord. Following any one of those commands would naturally lead us to love one another.

If we are being holy like God is holy, (if we’re living like his obedient children) then it stands to reason that we’re going to love each other because God is love! If we are copying God’s behaviour – then we will love each other – because loving others is exactly what God does. Love is at the centre of who God is.

In fact, the Apostle John says that if we don’t love each, then we obviously don’t even know God, because God is love! John writes in 1 John 4:7:

7 Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:7-8

In other words, loving others is the natural result of being in a relationship with God. The more we know him – the more we understand and experience His love – the more we will be inclined to love others just like He does. In fact, Jesus said that our love for one another will be the evidence to the world that we are his disciples. In John 13:34 Jesus says…

34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35

Here again Jesus reminds us that love is the natural results of our relationship with Him. We can’t truly be followers of Jesus without loving each other. That’s just part of the package! 

And that’s kinda what Peter is saying in our passage today. He writes:

21 Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.

22 You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart. 1 Peter 1:21-22

Notice the “So Now…” in this verse. Because we have come to trust in God and because we were cleansed from our sin – SO NOW…. we must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters.

There is a cause and effect here. The cause is that God has adopted us into his family – SO NOW the effect is that we must love each other as brothers and sisters. Earlier in this letter Peter instructs us to live as God’s obedient children – and now in this section he reminds us that as God’s children, we are all brothers and sisters and therefore we must love each other as brothers and sisters.

Now keep in mind who Peter is writing to. He’s writing to Christians who have been rejected by the world. They are outcasts. They are the misfits. In fact, many of them may even have been rejected by their own families. We see that sort of thing happening even today.

I read an article just last week about a young man in Vietnam named Cheu. Cheu became a Christian when he was about 20 years old, but when he did, his Uncle and his brother bound him up and beat him up for about 12 hours straight – telling him he needed to return to his old faith – and if he didn’t, they would continue beating him until he died. The article went on to say how he managed to escape, but he knows that if he ever returns to his village, he would likely be killed by his own family for his faith in Jesus.

Being adopted into God’s family may very well mean rejection from your own family. And perhaps that’s part of the reason why Peter tells us to love each other as brothers and sisters! Maybe you’ve been rejected by your biological family – well, now you’re a part of God’s family! You have new brothers and sisters.

God has given us the responsibility to love each like family. Peter says to love each other deeply – and to show sincere love to each other. Don’t just pretend to love each other. Actually love each other. Notice that Peter says we need to show sincere love to each other. We can’t just say we love each other – we have to act on that love.

Because love isn’t just well-wishes and happy thoughts. Love is actually taking action for the good of the others. You can say “I love you” a million times a day – but if you never act on that love and never do something for the good of the other person, that’s not love at all.

That’s why Romans 5:8 says:

8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NIV

God didn’t just say “I love you” – He demonstrated it. He acted on his love for us. His love for us compelled him to die in our place so that we could have life. God demonstrated his love for us.

We are to love each other like God loves us. In fact, to go back to that same passage in 1 John where we read about how those who know God will love like God…. John continues by saying….

11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. 1 John 4:11-12

This is kinda cool. What John is saying is that God’s love is expressed to others through us.  God shows his love for you through my actions. One of the most evident ways that God shows his care and concern for people – is through the care and concern shown by God’s family.

In other words, when it comes to loving people, we are the hands and the feet of God. When a kid at kids club falls and scrapes their knee and I give them a band-aid, I am giving them that bandaid on behalf of God.  It’s like, “Here, God wanted me to give you this.” Or when I come up and give you a hug cuz you’re going through a hard time – I’m hugging you on God’s behalf. This is a hug from God. God’s love is brought to full expression in us.

But the reverse is true too. When I neglect to give you that hug when you’re feeling down, I’m neglecting to hug you on God’s behalf. I’ve just robbed you of some of the love that God wanted to give you through me! When I neglect to put a bandaid on that little scaped knee, I’m robbing that little kid of some of the love that God wanted to give them through me.

So here’s a question for you: If your actions were the only thing that showed people how much God loved them – how loved would they feel? If they judged the love of God by how much love you showed them, what kind of a God would they imagine?

And I’m not even talking about unbelievers at this point – I’m talking about your brothers and sisters in Christ. How much love do you demonstrate for them? It’s easy to say we love one another. It’s easy say we’re a big loving church family!

But are we really? It may be easy to say we love each other – but it’s a lot more difficult to give up your Saturday afternoon to help someone thaw out a frozen sewer pipe. It’s a lot more difficult to take some time out of your busy schedule to visit someone in the hospital. It’s a lot more difficult to sponsor a fellow Christian who’s a refugee in from his country because he’s been persecuted for his faith.

But yet Peter says…

“You must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.” 1 Peter 1:22

He says we are to do this, first of all, because of the love that God has shown us. He says in verse 22…

22You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters…

God demonstrated his love for you – so now its your turn to do likewise… But then he continues by saying…

Love each other deeply with all your heart.

23 For (or because) you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. 24 As the Scriptures say,

“People are like grass;

    their beauty is like a flower in the field.

The grass withers and the flower fades.

25  But the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:22-25

The point that Peter is making is that we have been born again into this new family – and this will be our family forever. God has given us life through His Word (which is the Gospel) and has permanently adopted us as his children.

That means that these people sitting here with you today are will be your brothers and sisters – not just for the next few years – but for eternity! Forever!

Let me ask you this: what kind of relationship do you want to have with the people that will be with you for eternity?! Do you want to spend eternity with someone that you’re holding a grudge against? Do you want to spend eternity with someone that you don’t really get along with?

No way – that would be terrible! And so Peter says, don’t leave your relationships in that state. If we’re going be brothers and sisters for eternity – then we’d better learn to love each other now.

This command to love each other is one of the clearest instructions for us throughout all of Scripture. Time and time again we are told to love each other – and we’re even given lots of specific ways of how to do that.

Here are just a few examples:

    • Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 5:32
    • Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:10
    • Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. Philippians 2:4
    • Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:18
    • Use your freedom to serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13
    • When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13
    • Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Colossians 3:13
    • Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Ephesians 5:21
    • If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. Matthew 5:23-24
    • Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other. James 5:16
    • Encourage each other and build each other up. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
    • Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15

Are you getting the idea? This is how we are to treat every single brother and sister in Christ. I wonder, as we read through that list of Scriptures – did those verses describe you and I and the relationships that we have with the people sitting around us here today?

Are living in peace with everyone?

Do you make allowance for their faults and their flaws and the failures?

Do you take delight in honouring that person that sometimes you clash with?

Do you submit to one another out of reverence for Christ?

When God’s people are in need (these people) – are you ready to help them?

When you’ve done wrong (and we all do), are you willing to confess your sins to each other?

Do you pray for each other?

You know, we’re a pretty small group – we’re not some mega church with 1000s of members. We’re small enough to know everyone here by name.

And so here’s my question: Do the people in this room know that you love them? Do you demonstrate your love for them in some or all of these ways? 

Go ahead and take a look around the room – these are your brothers and sisters. And you are stuck with them for eternity – whether you like it or not. Do you love these people? Do you demonstrate your love for these people? And not just your favourite friends – but everyone!

God has commanded us to show sincere love for each other as brothers and sister. To love each other deeply with all our heart. I know that’s not always easy. We are all very different people with different backgrounds and different ways of thinking – and to top it all off, all of us are prone to sin. So, there will be conflict. There will be times when we hurt each other and when we let each other down.

But at the end of the day we are, and will continue to be, brothers and sisters in Christ. And so I would urge you, along with Peter, to show sincere love for each other and to love each other deeply with all your heart.

Make it a point to demonstrate that love for these people sitting beside you today. 

  • Have a family over for dinner. 
  • Share with someone how much you appreciate them. 
  • Have a conversation with someone you might not know so well.
  • If someone has wronged you – or if you’ve wronged them – make things right again.
  • Be patient with the ones that tend to rub you the wrong way – in fact, figure out ways to honour that person and to encourage them and to build them up. 
  • Pray for each other. I know we don’t have a church directory or anything, but make a list and pray for those people daily!

We really do have an awesome church family – and it is a privilege to be part of this group – as well as being part of the bigger group of God’s global church family! So I would just encourage you today to show sincere love for each other. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

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