Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

1 Peter 1: 22, 23

It is my fear and concern that we have become very careless with our words. We say things about others that are harsh, mean, crude, and intended to cause harm, and we really don’t seem to care much about the outcome of these statements. People in positions of power speak out about people and about situations with demeaning statements or with inflammatory ones that are either not well considered at all or that may be very well crafted for the very purpose of causing disagreement and for stirring up unrest. This is a world that has turned to incivility as its outward expression of an unhealthy social order. God did not give us the gift of language with this sort of use in mind. God has communicated with people by the use of language since the first days of the existence of humanity, and He has sought out our expressions of who and what we are in response to Him. The Lord also desires for us to engage with each other by using the words that He has given to us and the ideas that form their meaning as a tool that brings us closer together and that forges bonds of understanding and peace.

Perhaps the problem lies within the nature of what we are seeking to craft from the use of the language that God has given to us. We seem to have demoted the words that we use from the place of lofty value that their God-ordained origin grants to them so that now these once noble ideas have become nothing more than common, coarse, and too often profane. When we say something about someone or state our opinion of a concept or an idea we are placing that person, concept, or idea on public view with the descriptor of our language attached to them in such a manner as to make it hard to disassociate the description from the entity. This may seem harmless or even to have a certain whimsical and laughable quality to it, but when the ideas that are spoken are negative or derogatory in nature, they tend to have a tenacious duration to them that will continue to color the way that people view their object long after the original statement has been lost in time and forgotten by its original speaker.

All of this gives Peter’s original comment in these verses more weight in our world wherein words are spread rapidly and widely with amazing facility. God’s truth is far more demanding of us than the form of truth that most of us have framed up for ourselves. He requires that what we hold as true be something that will endure beyond the moment and that it possesses value that endures into the unforeseeable future. The Lord commands that the truth that should inform what we speak and the manner of our expression of our ideas is all formed and expressed in an atmosphere where love is the foundation and where the desired outcome is the building up of others into a form of unity of spirit and purpose. This is an idealistic standard to set for the world at large, but it is an imperative for followers of Christ. What we say has impact into eternity, and how we speak to and about others exposes the nature of our relationship with Christ to full public view. So, every word that comes out of the mouths of people who claim Christ as Savior and Lord, needs to be clearly related to its only valid source that is found in the Word of God alone.    

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

1 Peter 1: 22, 23

 

It is not easy to love others, and although it would seem that this sort of thing should get easier in the context of the church, historic behavior has not demonstrated that to be true. In fact, some of the time this sort of closeness and the passion of deep conviction can collide in ways that make the relationships of people within the church among the most explosive in all of human interaction. If Jesus were standing here among us today, He would tell us to stop behaving in this manner and to start actually loving Him by entering into the love that He pours out onto us. This eternal love is one that goes wherever it needs and engages with whatever is required in order to bring any of us who will turn to God into a place of peace and communion with God. This is the love that cleanses our hearts and minds of the opposition to our Lord that was ours from birth and that purifies our souls so that we can stand before God as redeemed beings who are fit to be in His presence.

 

It is Christ’s love that forms up the bond that we can think of in terms of family bonds, for He takes each of His followers out of our kinship with the clan of the world and adopts us into the Father’s family of faith. It is here, in the context of relationships that are founded and built upon the Christ’s blood and that are bound together in its kinship, that we can truly and faithfully love others as if they were sisters and brothers in every sense that those identities convey. That does not mean that every interaction is free from tension or even from strife. What it does require is for each of us to set aside our need to be right and our desire to rule the day so that we can enter into the story that others desire to tell and so that we can actually hear what it is that they are saying when they tell these life tales. As we surrender self and our self-driven and oriented desires to those of Christ, we are free to enter into the familial love that binds us to others, even to those who are very different from us.

 

These are the sorts of bonds that are not formed through contracts or by virtue of human agreements. Their primary existence is in the rare air of faith, and the binding agent in this entire sphere is Christ’s love, grace, and truth. Each of us grows in our ability to dwell in this atmosphere of love and peace as we submit ourselves more and more fully to Christ in repentance and openness to His Spirit’s in filling of wisdom and guidance for the way that we enter into righteous thinking and living. It is God’s Word that sets out what we need to know and that also grants to us the vocabulary of our prayer as we call out to God to grant to us the supernatural capacity to live well as His daughters and sons. As God’s holy and precious words provide the language of our conversation with God, His Spirit gives us the breath that we need to sustain long periods of contemplation and listening. For the Spirit seems to fill the lungs with heavenly oxygen so that Christ’s life giving truth and love are carried to every cell of the body as we are strengthened and encouraged to love well and to live out Christ’s love throughout the day.