Whole Counsel Theology

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Always Loving Your Church and Mine

1 Peter 1:22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart,
1 Peter 1:23 since you have been born again--not of perishable seed but of imperishable--through the living and enduring word of God.

Peter gives us an important understanding in these verses about loving each other as Christians, and subsequently loving our churches (since they are composed of Christians). It's certainly worth mentioning here, especially after my last post.

The first chapter of Peter's letter is full of exhortations to holiness and obedience. We are told to "get our minds ready for action" (13), to be "self-disciplined," to avoid being "conformed to the desires of [our] former ignorance" (14), "to be holy in all [our] conduct" (15), "to conduct [our]selves in reverence during this time of temporary residence." (17). He reminds us that we "were redeemed from [our] empty way of life" (18) and "that [our] faith and hope are in God." (21)

In the verses I cited above, Peter starts out telling us that we've "purified ourselves" and that we've done so "by obedience to the truth." Jesus's righteousness working itself out in us (that He bought for us with His blood, verse 19) shows that we are purified (made clean). We will work out righteous actions because of the fact that we've been redeemed, or as verse 23 puts it, "born again."

Now, what is the purpose Peter addresses in this passage for our purification? We are purified "for sincere love of the brothers" (22)! Not only that, in verse 23, he points back to verse 22 with his reasoning. Effectively, he says, "Since you have been born again through the living and enduring word of God (23), love one another earnestly from a pure heart." The word pure at the end of verse carries with it the meaning of being "free from corrupt desire, from sin and guilt" (Thayer). With the clean hearts we now have in Christ, free from corrupt desires, we are to love other believers, and not just love them, but earnestly (fervently, intensely)! It's one of the purposes of our redemption; we can and must do it, and it is not to be a casual matter. It is to be a passionate love for the body of Christ.

I wanted to make it clear that I love my church earnestly. My church, like any other, has its problems. Chances are, some of those things will make it to this blog since they are the things I am experiencing. However, if the only things that I or any of us focus on in our churches are the problems, then, however great our motives for change, we may be guilty of being complainers, which we are forbidden to do.

There are a lot of things good about my church. We have a pastor who has more passion for evangelism than almost anyone I've ever known; excellent. We have deacons who serve powerfully; magnificent. The people in this church actually GIVE in tithes and offerings, unlike many churches I've been in; wonderful! The education minister and youth minister have a passion for teaching the Word of God, and I've met many people who have a desire for God and His Word. There is no question that our church is being blessed by God in many ways.

This is not an excuse for being lax in addressing issues, of course. We must not use the fact that God's glory is proclaimed in some ways as an excuse to overlook areas where it is not. However, and this is the main thrust of this post, do not EVER forget that you are among brothers and sisters in Christ, people you have been purified to love INTENSELY. That fact alone is reason to thank and glorify God, and I suspect, if we make sure we are doing that, seeing other areas in our churches that are good won't be so hard.

You do it and I'll do the same.

To God Alone be the Glory.

(HT: Andrew Short)

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