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; for
“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:22-25
Peter draws an interesting comparison here. He begins (as Peter often does) by issuing a command and then giving the theological reasons for it. What’s the command here? “Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” But why? Now the obvious (and true) answer is that we love because God first loved us by sending His Son to die for our sins that we might experience life with Him. This is absolutely right but Peter gives another reason- permanence. You were born of something that is going to last forever-God’s word. But what does brotherly love (the word in the Greek is “Philadelphia” where we get our word.. well Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love) and the imperishable word of the Gospel (good news) have to do with each other. Simple, just as the the Word of God lives and abides forever, so too we who have believed in this Word become creatures that will live and last forever. Since we are going to be around our Christian brothers and sisters for eternity, we should probably start treating each other like it. Now, I need to clarify, because I am not advocating that we merely all “get along.” This is an oversimplification. As a parent, if all I strived for was to get along with my children, our house would crumble. True love often means hard conversations, saying things that may hurt at times in order to correct. See, if we are going to have real unity it needs to be built on the truth, it needs to be built on a Word that never grows old. That means sometimes love comes in the form of encouragement, and sometimes it comes in the form of correction. Its brotherly love, and coming from a house of boys I can tell, you brothers fight sometimes. However, if we are bonded by the permanent Word of God, that means our fights are between family, and there is a different way that you would fight with family than you would with a stranger. Brothers can have a fist fight and hug it out ten minutes later. This is the way I believe Christian arguments should be (maybe not with actual fist fighting)- we should be willing to fight for the truth and also be quick to forgive, quick to ask forgiveness, and ready to be restored as family. This is what I believe true brotherly love amongst Christian brothers and sisters must look like.
Today let this be your prayer: Lord help me to love those in the faith as family. Help us to be willing to cling to that which is true and never changing, help us to be united by Your Word. There will certainly be fights along the way, but let us fight like family and not like strangers. Help us to seek unity and restoration and see those in the church as those we will spend eternity alongside. Amen.