Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4: 8

 

Peter knew the score. In his time the days were filled with perils. Some of these risks were aimed at the body, some at the mind, and others at the spirit. Life was challenging, and living it for the glory of Christ was literally dangerous. Yet, in the midst of these tensions, concerns, and worries Peter speaks of loving one another. He seems to be telling me that my natural response to a rather slim version of these life pressures wherein I become brittle, harsh, and let concern rule my heart is simply not the way that a follower of Christ needs to engage with my world. There is another way, and my old friend Peter wants to let me know about it.

 

What I hear Peter saying to me is, “Steve, you are a sinner. You don’t trust our Lord enough to know with a certainty that overcomes all anxiety and fear that Christ rules this day and tomorrow as well.” So, these doubts and fears take over my life, and my response to them causes me to engage with others in ways that are graceless and unloving. The result is that when I most need fellowship and the wisdom of others, I separate myself from them. Then Peter provides an answer that is almost too simple; yet, it is also one of the hardest things that I can think of to do when the storms of living in our world are battering the window of my heart and mind. Peter says that I should face the wind and the waves in the same way that Jesus did.

 

In fact, Christ responded time and again to the assault that this broken world threw at Him with the love that caused the Father to send Him into it. Christ loved when people rejected Him, He loved when they defied Him, He loved as they tortured and mocked Him, and He loved us all as His life was flowing out on the cross. My Lord faced fearful situations and an angry world with love as His response. How can I deny Christ by refusing to love the people in my world? As a follower of Christ, I am filled with His Spirit, and that is the Spirit of love, grace, and peace. I can turn to Him in these hard days, challenging hours, and desperate moments and His reassuring voice speaks that same love into my heart and grants me the grace to pour out Christ’s love into the people I meet along the way.

As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.

Ezekiel 34: 12

 

The roads and highways of this world are a mess, and air travel seems less certain than ever. Most people end at least some of our days in places that we didn’t intend when we developed our plans for life. Yet, after encountering numerous detours, traffic jams, and washed out bridges, we become disconnected from the life that we were after. The land where we are located is foreign, and many of the people who surround us speak a language that we don’t really understand. Truly the clouds of our own decisions are obscuring the horizon, and the darkness that covers the heart is thickly oppressive.

 

Sometimes this state is naturally short lived and becomes resolved when the light of truth reaches us. At other times and for some people it persists and becomes what is normal. This foreign land to which we have traveled replaces the one that God intended for each of His people as it is then that person’s place of dwelling. This is a disturbing and unsettling place to be, for the food, language, and customs of this land are worldly and discordant with who we are as children of God. Although this pasture land is not the one that God has designated as His source of good food for His sheep, He never hesitates in going there to seek out His own. He is fearless and bold, and His love for each of His people is endless.

 

When we find ourselves tasting the strange food and drink of this place that is at the end of one of these detours from God’s path through life, we can stop in mid bite and know that Christ is there to guide us out of that dark place and into the safety of His light. There is no road too twisted for the Lord to be unable to follow, and no bridge is too broken for Him to repair. Christ has been to every desperate and deadly corner of this world, and He truly desires to leave no one behind there. When we are lost, we can always turn to God, and He will respond. His Word is everywhere, and it speaks truth to all situations. God’s people surround us, and they will come to our rescue with the boldness of Christ as their strength. As we seek the Lord, He will rescue.