Purified to Really Love

1 Peter 1:22

April 5th & 6th, 2008


The resurrection changes everything, and this includes our relationship with those around us. Our text today says we are to have a sincere brotherly love, and to love one another earnestly from a pure heart.  Does the world understand love???                   A woman named Marie writes the following letter to her former fiancé only weeks after they broke their engagement.

Dearest Jimmy,

No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you!

Yours forever,


P.S. And congratulations on winning the state lottery.

To often the world views love in this conditional, “what’s in it for me” kind of thing.      Contrast this view of love with these words from 1 Peter 1:22 “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another deeply from a pure heart.”  In the first instance the love was based on a less than pure motivation, a “what can I get out of this situation”.  I’m not complete, so I need to “take” from others in order to get complete. Yet as Christians, through Christ and his resurrection   we are pure, holy and complete.    The difference between Christianity and the world’s view of love is that we love first from a state of completeness.  Secondly in Jesus Christ there is a storehouse of love given in us that cannot be exhausted,  and it is on that basis we are called to love one another deeply.   This sort of love is not based merely upon feelings, but it is sacrificial.  It is a love that has as its basis our Savior and his love for us     In John 13 Jesus says “A new command I give you; Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.       This is a pure love, a love which is unconditional God places on his people.  It is that love which frees us not just to love one another, but to also love one another deeply from the heart.

What does this love look like in our lives.? We get some clues from our Epistle reading today.   First it is based upon and impartial Father.   Remember when David was chosen as King, through Samuel God went to the sons of Jesse and one by one he rejected the many sons of Jesse.  He asked for someone else, and up came David a young shepherd boy.     He chose David, and he said to Samuel “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord Looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)   In other words God does not choose those he loves based upon the lovable ness of the person in front of him.  He does not choose based on the usefulness of those in front of him.  This is the way it has always been.  To the Israelites, God’s chosen people, it was said “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.  But it was because the Lord loved you and kept he oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Duet.7:7-8) ”      God chose some pretty ruddy characters over the years including Samson who was one who to easily flew of the handle in anger, and   killed many while he was God’s Judge.  God chooses Paul, an accomplice to murder.  God loves and calls Matthew a tax collector, and probably a cheat.  There was nothing on the outside that would convey them to God, but he doesn’t look at them the same way we do.   So also, we are called to love deeply even when there is nothing visibly in that person to love.  We do not have to look for a reason to love in them; rather our reason is in Jesus and his love for us.       This is tough, especially when that teenager is in the third year of not being to thrilled to be your child or that parent of the teenager who for the third year in a row “just doesn’t get it”.   This is tough when an elderly parent or spouse becomes belligerent   to no fault of their own due to such things as dementia.  This is tough, when it seems like the person we are to love isn’t going to change to the better.    Especially as God’s people we are called to love one another deeply.  Again, the resources for that love does not   have to be found in that person, rather it is from our dear Jesus.    Our Jesus doesn’t love us because of some innate characteristic either seen or unseen.   As a matter of fact the Bible says while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).   

            How does he show that love?  It says in verse 18 that he has ransomed you from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers.  He is impartial, and he ransomed us from futility.  Futility; that is life without Jesus.    Ecclesiastes talks about it being a chasing after wind, a aimless purposeless life.   This is a life following in Adam’s footsteps.   This is a life that finds out that things one thought were of utmost importance like  work, school, money are not really that important.   This week in our chapel here at school we had someone here from mainland China.  He spoke about growing up in a land where in school he was taught atheism.  He was told that each person is in charge of their own destiny.  I asked him what moved him from this belief to Christianity.  He said, life got tough, to much for him to handle by himself.  By the grace of God in Christ Jesus he recognized his “futile life”.  How was he, and how are we rescued from this futility?   “It was not with perishable things you were redeemed from the empty way of life, rather it was the blood of Jesus” (1 peter 1:18-19)       Man’s ways to deal with futility is through the  “silver and gold” approach.  More work, healthier life, the things of this world. Good things in and of themselves, but not good at solving our futility problem.  They cannot solve our sin problem.  The “silver and gold approach” will not solve our death problem.      Only the blood of the Lamb of God can rescue us and give life meaning.    

We a have been rescued from futility by our impartial Father, and thirdly the text says we are now strangers, or exiles here on earth.   Our identity, what makes us who we are as Christians also makes us different then the world.      There is a sense where we will not fit into this world, and we never will.   What makes the Christian tick and what makes the world tick are two different things.  One is based on what one gets before the end of all things comes.  The other says we have already been claimed by this Jesus; therefore our motto according to our new nature is what can I give.  Again, the world says that love  is ultimately about what is in it for me, while in Christianity we are  empowered to love and forgive as we has been loved and forgiven.    

               So Love one another deeply.   1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 says “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.  And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia.  Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.”   The sense here is there is not cap, not limit.  Even if we got it down, do it more.

            This love, based on an impartial Father who has rescued us from a futile life through the blood, and who puts us in a world were we are exiles or strangers, also  involves sacrifice.  Sacrifice has little “what’s in it for me”.  A few years ago, the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Mo, made public 1,300 recently discovered letters that the late President wrote to his wife, Bess, over the course of a half-century.  Mr. Truman had a lifelong rule of writing to his wife every day they were apart.”  Did he always want to do this, I can’t imagine this to be the case, but he did it anyway. After all, he was President, he had plenty to do.   He showed Bess that sacrificial love, a love which in many ways reflects Jesus sacrificial love.  In this love the feelings, the naturalness of love does not always spill over, but as Jesus was sacrificed for us, we can sacrifice our life for others. 

            At the end of this our text, after we are asked to love one another deeply, he once again reminds us whose we are in Christ Jesus.   We have also been born again Not on our own, but through the living and enduring Word of God.  Everything else fades, becomes futile in the end, but his Word remains for ever.

            Does this “Love one another deeply” exhortation come natural to believers, probably not.  We have failed to love, and indeed to love deeply as we should.  Yet, especially in that situation we are to be reminded of our impartial Father who through Jesus has rescued us from our futile life and now allows us to live as strangers here on earth.   This good news Word does not fade away.    It has been placed on us and is to be shown to the world.   So love, love deeply. Why?   Lottery or no lottery its what Jesus and those who follow him are all about.   Amen.