Love. Period. Full Stop.

Living Loved When Livings Hard | Day 3
Reading:
1 Peter 1:22-24

“By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” – 1 Peter 1:22 (HCSB)

“I’ll come pick you up.”

I had to look at the message again, just to make sure I read it right.

“I’ll come pick you up.”

If I’m being truly honest, I had a hard time believing that she was on her way. In a previous conversation, she’d said she was available anytime I wanted to talk or just needed someone to sit with.

Other people have offered me this multiple times before, but rarely did I take them up on their offer. In my previous experiences, people tend to say that to sound nice but aren’t actually available when you need it. Or maybe they do mean well and have good intentions, but have trouble following through when it really comes down to it.

Plus, it’s scary asking for people to be there, seeing us during the low points in our lives.

What if I’m a burden?

What if they don’t want anything to do with me once they see who I really am?

What if I say too much?

What if I am too much?

I think we’ve all had those thoughts. And probably with good reasons. There have been times where friends have walked out of my life for those reasons, and it’s not fun. Trusting that someone was willing to be with us when we’re falling apart is a huge risk for us to take.

But I took it.

And I truly felt the love of God in that moment.

She didn’t do anything special; she was just there, willing to take on my struggles as her own and listen to me as I talked through my doubts. That seemingly simple action showed me sincere love – the love that says, “I might not have the words to say, but I love you enough to be with you when you’re hurting.”

That’s the love we’re called to show one another.

The First Step

I find it interesting that after telling us to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:15), the first step Peter gives is to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (verse 22). Throughout the rest of 1 Peter, Peter gives instruction on submitting to authority, living in marriage, and suffering for Christ. Why does he focus on telling believers to love one another first?

Friends, I think it’s because we were never meant to live this life alone.

Culture of Isolation

We’re pretty privileged in the U.S. Most people living in close proximity to us (especially in the Midwest) aren’t actively attacking Christians, even if they disagree with our faith. We have tons of gospel-preaching churches in the Des Moines area that we can choose to fellowship in. Because of the options available to us, we have the opportunity to pick and choose our Christian friends or attend whatever church we want.

This isn’t a bad thing! We’re fortunate that we have that privilege. But I think we need to be careful we don’t use that as an excuse or an easy way out of our relationships with other believers.

The believers in Peter’s day didn’t have that luxury. He was writing to Christians who were being attacked for their beliefs. The only people they had to lean on was one another.

Today, we’re not forced to lean on one another. In our society, we have multiple venues to turn to for support. We don’t have to turn to actual people to help us. We have forums, Google searches, anonymous advice sites, and Internet communities for a variety of different struggles.

Plus, I think that social media has encouraged an idea of perfectionism. We see the posts of people’s perfect parenting, relationships, fitness – basically everyone’s perfect lives. That image of being perfect has created in us the belief that whispers the lie of, “No one has the struggles I have.”

This lie makes us intimidated and embarrassed, and we begin to think, “Why would I share my struggles with her? Her life is perfect”

Friends, this type of thinking has created a culture of isolation. We think that no one else shares the struggles we battle with. We are afraid or embarrassed to admit when things in our lives aren’t going well. We don’t know how to ask for help when the nights are long.

Sisters, this wasn’t how life was intended to be lived. We are made for community; we are made to live our lives with one another.

There is no way we can love one another earnestly from a pure heart if we’re living in fear and isolation.

Identity

“Perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).

This is a verse I turn to often for encouragement. It reminds me of God’s perfect love and the freedom I have through that.

The only perfect love we are ever going to discover is the love that Jesus Christ has for us. Once we understand how He loves us, we can fully embrace that we are fully surrounded by His perfect love.

We can love others because of this love Christ has for us. We need to make sure we focus on this identity first. When we’re sure of who we are in Christ, we can rest in Him. We won’t be searching for fulfillment for other people or placing expectations on others that they were never intended to bear. Or on ourselves for that matter.

Vulnerability

Once we’ve understood the perfect love we have in Jesus, we are free to be honest with one another. If Christ loves us for who we are, we don’t need approval from other people. We can share our messiness and our struggles because we aren’t seeking approval from anyone besides Christ.

This is so incredibly freeing.

I am not perfect. You are not perfect. There is absolutely no way we are ever going to be perfect in this life. But we don’t have to be.

Let me say that again for the people in the back. We don’t have to be perfect. We are absolutely free from the idol of perfectionism. 

Jesus took care of our need to be perfect when He died on the cross and rose from the dead. If you believe in that, you are seen as righteous in God’s eyes simply because of the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.

Sister, there is nothing you have to do to earn that love. And because our freedom from perfectionism, we can put aside the illusion of being perfect. We can put aside our masks of having it all together.

We can admit we struggle (just like everyone else). We can admit we need help (just like everyone else).

We are free to fully love one another because of the love we’ve found in Christ.

I’m currently reading a book titled Messy Beautiful Friendship by Christine Hoover (which I absolutely love, so read it if you get a chance!). As a pastor’s wife, Christine has had many opportunities to observe not only the struggles women have in creating friendships, but also the hindrances to deepening those relationships.

One difficulty we face in pursuing life-giving friendships is our hesitancy to be vulnerable with one another. Christine writes, “Biblical friendship is grounded in vulnerability, because vulnerability is necessary to fulfill the ‘one anothers’ found in Scripture.”

The “one anothers” Christine is referring to is a series of biblical commands which challenge how believers interact with each other.

There are a ton of these references throughout Scripture, but a few of my personal favorites are . . .

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:18 – “Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
  • Ephesians 4:32 – “And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.”
  • Romans 14:19 – “So then, we must pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.”
  • Galatians 6:2 – “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
  • James 5:16 – “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.”

Referencing Galatians 6:2, Christine goes on to say, “How else can we help carry a load unless we know the load is there? How else can someone help us carry a load unless they know what we’re trying to carry?”

We’re called to help one another, to pray for one another, to confess our sins to one another.

We cannot do these things unless we talk to each other, unless we let each other know what is happening in our lives.

Unless we throw away our perfectionism.

It’s time we open up and stop pretending we have it all together. Because we don’t. And, yeah, it’s scary, but it’s what God intended. So, in the words of my BFF Katy Perry, “Don’t be afraid to catch fish feels.”

(The BFF statement is false. #teamtswift)

Jesus Said So

This is the love Peter is urging us to live out with one another – a love that is open and honest, a love that is willing to bear one another’s burdens, a love that points one another to Christ.

I cannot express how important this love is. Not only is it insanely beneficial for us, but it’s how Christ chose for us to show Him to the rest of the world.

Right before His death, Jesus is chilling with his bros, desperately trying to explain to them that He is going to die. The disciples aren’t the brightest people, so they’re missing everything Jesus is trying to tell them. Finally, Jesus says, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 HCSB)

In the following chapters of John, Jesus gives more last words. He knows He is leaving soon, so He’s giving the disciples the instructions and encouragement He wants them to have before He is no longer physically with them. Again he encourages the disciples to love one another (John 15:9-17).

I find it convicting that one of the instructions Jesus chose to give in His last words was for the disciples to love one another so that others would know they were followers of Him.

We love because of Christ’s love for us. The way we treat one another needs to show that love. People should know who we belong to because of the way we love one another.

Theology is important. Knowing Scripture is important. Going to church is important. But that’s not how people will know the love of Christ.

They will know the love of Christ simply by how we love one another.

✌️ – Tonya

REFLECTION

Has there ever been a time where you were vulnerable with someone and they were able to show you the love of Christ? When was a time you were able to love a friend in this way?

Feel free to respond below! Or just leave a nice comment 😉

2 thoughts on “Love. Period. Full Stop.

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