Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Loving People Fervently

Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart   —  1 Peter 1:22 (NASB95)

The main evidence that we are growing in Christ is not exhilarating prayer experiences, but steadily increasing, humble love for other people.  –  Frederica Mathewes-Green, First Fruits of Prayer (Paraclete Press, 2006), p. Xv

How about we all participate in a mass confession?  Loving the brethren isn’t something we really want to do.  After all, some of the brethren aren’t all that lovable.  Some of them are kooks and cranks, and not a few border on being nut cases.

Then there are the mean-spirited brethren, the nosey-and-in-your-business brethren, the forever-complaining brethren, the negative, critical, fussy, never-satisfied brethren.  Throw in a few holier-than-thou and better-than-thou brethren, and pretty much anybody can see why loving the brethren can be a problem.

If everyone was as easy-going as, say, I am then it would be a much easier task.  In fact, I think that’s the main problem.  Too many people aren’t like me, and that’s what makes them hard for me to love.  Have I just betrayed myself and possibly you, too?

I think Jesus had amazing insight into the human heart when he said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”   I think he knew that most of us love ourselves.  The problem is that we don’t always love the other guy.  But if we could love the other guy, we would need to love him as we love ourselves.

Peter doesn’t help much.  He not only expects us to love our brethren, he evidently expected that we would love with some zip to it.  He said, “. . . fervently love one another from the heart.”  Fervently!  You can’t do something fervently and look bored, or tired, or like you wished you were somewhere else, doing something else.  The very idea of “fervently” just shouts energy and sincerity.  To be honest, if somebody was going to love me, I think I’d like for them to do so fervently.

Ever wonder what would happen to a church where everybody loved everybody fervently?  I’m not sure that will ever happen, but I think it would be terrific.  Wonder how we could get that going?  There must be a way.