1 Peter 1:22 – 2:3, 2 Kings 4
Last week, in Geoff’s comment on the introduction to 1 Peter 1, he pointed out that Peter addressed his Christian readers as exiles – people who lived in the land, but who felt uncomfortable living in it because their home was somewhere else.
In the verses that follow Peter unpacks what it means to live as an exile.
Exiles love differently – Deep Brotherly love
22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.[a] 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (1 Peter 1:22-24)
In 1 Peter 1:22 we read that exiles (Christians) love differently to the way the world loves because we have been born again. Christian’s are to love “deeply from the heart” (ie sincerely) because we are made of different stuff. We have been born again imperishable.
Neil Postman, American Critic and educator, made the following comment on the invention of the Telegraph in the 1800’s
“The telegraph may have made the country into “one neighbourhood”, but it was a peculiar one, populated by strangers who knew nothing but the most superficial facts about each other” (Postman1986)
No doubt if Postman were alive today would have made the same comment on the advent of the Internet.
In the peculiar world we live in, where you can have hundred’s friend’s on Facebook, thousands of followers on twitter, and not really be known by anyone, Peter’s call for us to “deeply love one another” in today’s reading seems particularly relevant
Christians ought to love one another not as if we were brethren, but because we are brethren (Tyndale NT Commentary).
Peter goes on in the next verses to tell us what deep brotherly love does not look like
What Deep brotherly love does not look like.
2 Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. 2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-2)
The character flaws we are to rid ourselves of include ..
- Malice (sometimes translated “ill-will”). Are you hard-hearted towards another Christian? Maybe they have done something to you or someone you love. Or maybe you just don’t like them?
- Deceit. (Dishonesty). Do you mis-represent yourself to other Christians, pretending to be someone you are not – pretending to have it “all together” – when in reality you need their prayers?
- Hypocrisy. Outwardly professing one view while inwardly harbouring another
- Envy. Ever found yourself thinking “If only I had their money / wife / gifts / kids / time / car / job ?
- Slander. Speaking ill of another – rumours, white-anting, gossip.
I am all too familiar with many of these behaviours – my guess is that I am not the only one. Peter says we need to scrap these behaviours if we want to progress in our walk with the Lord.
Clearly we have the God-given power to change our behaviour and love each other differently – The instruction “rid yourselves” would not make any sense if we could not do it!
What exiles crave.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Most of us are pretty familiar with the passionate, unrelenting cries of a newborn baby that’s hungry.
Peter suggests that, in contrast to adopting the destructive behaviour s listed above we should have the same desperation of a new born as we crave pure spiritual milk if we want to “grow up” to be mature Christians.
Lord please empower us by your Holy Spirit to throw out the behaviours that would stop us from loving each other deeply. Instead, give us a desperate unrelenting passion for loving each other, your Word, good teaching, prayer, and of meeting together with other exiles. Amen