Yours in Christ: Pastoral Letters from Resurrection, State College

Love One Another Earnestly from a Pure Heart

Dear Resurrection,

Once while I was visiting friends in Modesto, California, they took me to a park on the banks of the Stanislaus River. I have never felt water so cold in all my life. Flowing down from the snowcapped Sierra Nevada mountains just north of Yosemite, the Stanislaus is fed by snowmelt, so even though it was high summertime, the rushing current pierced our feet, ankles, and hands with a profound intensity matched only by the feeling of refreshing purity in those clear mountain waters.

That kind of intensity and purity marks the kind of love Jesus calls us to share with one another as we live together in His church. Our last “one-another” passage for this month comes from 1 Peter 1:22, which says, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”

It’s easy to “love” each other half-heartedly, giving the leftovers of our time and energy (provided our own needs and desires are taken care of), then feeling self-satisfied as though we’ve done something heroic. But Paul says we’re to love one another earnestly—with a fervent intensity like the chill of that mountain riverwater, a grace-driven overflow of self-giving, self-forgetting, Spirit-empowered, others-oriented energy.

It’s easy to “love” each other out of self-interest—that is, when we have a reason to expect some return, not really pouring ourselves out for one another but wanting, by the service we give, to gratify ourselves. But Peter says our love for each other is to be sincere (the Greek word is an-hypocriton, or “without hypocrisy”) and pure—not mixed with our own agenda or desire for recognition or reward, but clean and fresh, washed by the purifying grace of the Holy Spirit.

Sincerity. Fervency. Purity. That is an uncommon kind of love, and it is uncommonly difficult for sinners like us to show that kind of love to each other. Hypocrisy and sluggishness and selfishness come so naturally to us.

Where can we all turn together when we hear Peter’s call to this kind of love but to the Lord Jesus? Christ is the only person whose love was perfectly pure, never once mixed with a hint of self-interest; no, He gave Himself wholly and completely, without holding anything back, down to the last drop of blood and ounce of anguish, to rescue you from sin and give you life out of death. In the cross you can see the perfect, infinite earnestness of your Savior, the fervency of His self-giving ardor for your salvation.

Grace-Based Action Point

In John 7, Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38). If you want to show the earnest, pure love Jesus calls you to, you need to know the earnest, pure love of Jesus for you. “Now,” John goes on, “this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive” (v. 39). As you feel the intensity and purity of Jesus’ love wash over you through the Gospel, His Spirit is the one who will empower you to extend that love in pure, fervent, self-giving humility towards one another.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Simmons