It’s into this that Peter writes to the aliens and exiles in his first letter. As he tells them about being new citizens, about a new way of being in a world that neither likes them nor wants them. His hard yet simple answer is follow the example of Christ. It’s Jesus that is the information guide for new citizens. Peter sees this as being a “He” and “We” sorta thing. This is not a “come to Jesus” letter. This is a “follow Jesus” letter. Peter saying that we look only to Christ but that we do it the context of the community for the benefit of the church.
It’s why he tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. Certainly Christ’s love for us pays for the sins of the world. The “He” part. But what does he mean as far as the “We” part goes?
Proverbs 10 tells us that love remembers no wrong and doesn’t stir up strife. Love covering up anger.
James in chapter 5 seems to believe that love can help reverse a fellow God-follower if they are on a sinful path. Love covering up tracks.
Jesus himself in Mark 11 says that love is indeed evidence of our own forgiveness. Love covering ourselves.
Paul tells the Corinthian church that bears all things and endures all things. Love covering… all things.
And this can’t just be Peter’s idea of good idea or a lofty ideal to be strived for but never attained. This is something important. This is something deeper. Something I have thought on lately is Romans 13. It tells us that love is mandated. The only thing we seem to owe is love. And if that’s true, it’s too bad Peter never told us how to repay that love we owe. Oh wait! He did. In chapter 3, he gives us a list. Be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble. Ahhhh, easy stuff. Well, maybe simple but not easy.
So much of this is about the cooperative nature of the Christian faith. It makes us owners of nothing, stewards of everything. Do we truly believe that the earth is the Lord’s and all it contains? The world and those who dwell in it? If that is so, how could we not be hospitable with what is God’s and do it without complaining? We get in trouble when we speak about God owning it all but in our hearts, we hold onto the thought that we really own this little part of it. Ties into owing nothing but love. That said, pay your bills! The electric company won’t accept a hug.
Peter talks to us about gifts as if they are an already given, not a might happen someday. Each one of us given gifts. These gifts given to us for the well-being of the Church. Every member crucial to the body. The world isn’t won by the clergy alone. They are given to us in order to serve. Gifts are not rewards or shiny placards or merit badges, they are the towels we use to dry the feet lowly. We use them as good stewards knowing that we will give account to the master for how they were used. It is not for our account or praise or prestige that we have these things, these gifts. All gift usage is to be towards the Glory of God, not to ourselves.
No matter what situation you find yourself, you have gifts.
No matter what situation you find yourself, act as though you owe love.
No matter what situation you find yourself, know that your actions reflect on the character of God.