I’m stilling chewing on this Sunday’s sermon over 1st Peter chapter 1. It made me think about love and guilt in a new way — together as a unit. I realized that if I feel guilty about something then the source must be a lack of love on my part! Just as there is “no guilt in love” it might also be said that “where love fails, guilt prevails.”
The passage in 1st Peter reminds me of a similar passage in Romans 12:9. I love the NLT version which says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.”
So I have to ask: who do I say that I love, but could provide absolutely no evidence to someone to support my claim of love?
Who does our church or our campus ministry claim to love? And is there any evidence of that love?
These are hard questions, but I recently read a book that defined love in a way that might help answer some of these questions. The author says that to love someone is a rugged commitment to be: with them, for them, and unto them. As individuals and as a church I think we may be guilty of falling short of this kind of love. Personally, I know that I’m often for someone, meaning I wish them well, and I am also loving them unto something or someone, namely Christ. But what I most often guilty of is a failure to be with that someone whom I claim to love.
John 13:35 says,
“By this the world will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
I believe that when we fail to love one another with the pure love that Peter talks about, we prove to the world that we are not Jesus’s disciples.
This convicts me. I see the faces of many people I know and claim to love, and I know that I’m guilty. How can I so badly wish for these people to be drawn deeper into Christ, but I can’t bring myself to sacrifice the time to be with them? Instead I’m for them from afar.
But I don’t want the guilt I feel to go away just yet! Instead, I pray that the Holy Spirit, as well as my fellowship with the people of God, would foster in me a love so pure that those around me KNOW that I follow Jesus. My challenge for everyone, myself included, this week is to spend time with someone, especially someone different from you, maybe even someone you find difficult to love. And pray. Pray that God helps us to really love people for who they are: sinners who, like us, stand helpless at the foot of the cross, sinners for whom Jesus gladly died.