Love Each Other Deeply

   Peter in his first letter in our Scriptures writes to a scattered group of Jesus followers. (1 Peter 1:1-2 TPT)
   What a tremendous greeting! It is so important for us as good students of the Word to always recognize the context in which the Scriptures were written. It opens greater understanding of the Scriptures to us but beyond that, I believe, the Holy Spirit can use this at points of connection for us in our own lives or the lives of others. The opening words of Peter’s First Epistle provides us with that context.
     Immediately in the first few verses we are greatly encouraged! Although these believers had been scattered and perhaps were in unfamiliar territory, facing many unknowns – they were not forgotten! As to us, as well as them, this is greatly inspiring and our hearts are filled with hope!  In this new year we may be facing many unknowns; we may find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, but God has not forgotten us! We must remember that we are chosen and destined by Him. He has already shed the blood of His Son to procure our eternal salvation, surely He will care for us in the here and now!! It almost feels like a refreshing waterfall as Peter proclaims the blessing of delightful grace and peace cascading over us! We are only 2 verses in and already our hearts are touched by the power in His living Word!
    Towards the end of Peter’s Epistle, he offers some very important instructions to this same audience. (1 Peter 4:7-10 NIV)
   This is a loaded set of verses! First of all let’s remember that the first readers of this were in tenuous situations and surroundings. They were unsure of almost everything, persecution was everywhere, and Peter even tells them the end of all things is near. Often when we are under this much pressure, it’s easy for fog to settle in over our thinking and for us to honestly, get off track. But Peter admonishes them first and foremost: Stay clear minded! Stay awake and alert! Stay under control so that you can focus on what matters, your relationship with God and responding correctly to those around you! Love each other deeply! Why? How?
      When we walk in a proper response to offense and mistreatment, somehow love does something in that situation. Even if we don’t see it immediately, it literally covers the shortcomings of those around us. Think about it…in times of great pressure people are often on edge, on their last straw, emotions raw and often exploding. These readers were living this out…days of great pressure…sound familiar? But Peter instructs them, (1 Peter 4:7-8a NKLV) “don’t respond in like kind!” He asks them to love, and that’s one thing…but also to love deeply.  These other translations expound on just what this looks like:
  • "Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another…” – 1 Peter 4:8a AMP
  • "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other…” – 1 Peter 4:8a NLT
  • “More than anything, keep loving each other actively…” – 1 Peter 4:8a CJB
  • “Above all, keep your love for one another at full strength…” – 1 Peter 4:8a HCSB
  • “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love makes up for many of your faults. 1 Peter 4:8a TLB
  • “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything.” – 1 Peter 4:8 The Message
  • “Above all continue to love one another fervently, for love throws a veil over a multitude of faults.” – 1 Peter 4:8 Weymouth
  Wow!!! This brings out so many shades of meaning in what is being said here as well as what this would actually look like! We are definitely not talking about just tolerating each other or giving one of our varnished “bless you brother” responses. Loving deeply goes beyond the surface and enters into each other’s lives. It rolls up its sleeves, it feels, it cares, it responds. This needs to be imprinted upon our hearts and literally into our brains! This is exactly how Jesus loves us! Look at his example:
     He came here – total inconvenience and upheaval.
     He became us – total sacrifice and extreme limitation
     He walked with us – completely willing to restrain Himself from a Heavenly to an earthly
     He showed us the Father – totally willing to make the most wondrous truths
     He fought for us – opposed religion and its poison at every turn from deceiving us into a
        false, passive type of existence.
     He died for us – the ultimate example of love…laying everything down for the painful
and costly purchase of the object of His desire, thus expressing the ultimate value He 
has for us.
     He lives for us – the eternality of a love that never forgets or forsakes its lovers.…loving…deeply. This is love at full strength. This is the love that keeps loving. If He has done this for us, how can we not return this love? And this, not only to Him but to all those He calls us to love. (1 John 4:17-19)
  I know these are not easy times, nor are many of us in easy circumstances…but we must keep the first things first. In the first part of this year, may our hearts shift from fog to fervent love, from pressure of this world to the peace that passes understanding! May His goodness strengthen and embolden us to counter the chaotic culture that is often vitriolic.     May love, His kind of deep love, be the blanket in a church and world grown cold.
      Much love from all of us at WILD!

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