Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4: 8 (NASB)

 

The translators here said “keep fervent”, others have said “earnestly” or “deeply”, and in The Message it says, “as if your life depended on it”; do you get the idea that Peter believed and felt that love was essential in our relationships if we were going to overcome the crushing oppression of a world that is filled with anger, repression, isolation, and self-centeredness. The Apostle tells me to put this love “above all”; that would seem to be a rather important place; the loftiest spot in my world. This is the focal point for guiding my day, and it should be the moral compass for my actions, and even more so, the filter for my thoughts.

 

Why is it that actually loving others can be so hard if it is so important to God; what gets in the way? For me, I do; my self-directed and fearful heart, my stubborn refusal to listen to God’s spoken truth about my incredible value to Him, these hands that I keep clinched tightly in front of my face to ward off blows that God has already stopped, and the emotional and intellectual shield that I place around me to keep people at a distance are all powerful barriers to loving others.

 

Yet, as strong and as deeply entrenched as all of these aspects of my being are, Christ can remove them in a moment; His love is too great to be ignored, and the security that He brings to me is so real that my own fears are defeated, and my heart is freed in love’s embrace. This is a love that transcends passion and power; it removes the walls that separate; it drives us toward people; and it defies evil’s attempts at isolating and insulating us. Christ did love us as if His life depended on it, and He always does love us this way.

 

God loves each of us totally and without reservation; as we let Him remove the barriers to our own open expression of love, we move closer to our loving Lord, all forgiving Savior, and completely trustworthy Father. As we move closer to Him, we are able to forgive, to seek forgiveness, to let down our defenses, and to embrace others with an openness and a joyfulness that is the absolute expression of freedom.