My wonderful, outgoing and brilliant aunt just passed away. She is mother to my cousins, whom I adore, and they are now left without that treasured grace, a mother’s hug. I still remember my mother’s last hug. It carried all of the meaning of love through the decades of my life.
My favorite day to be on Facebook is Mother’s Day. Most of my friends are fairly gushing about their mothers and their appreciation and love for them. There are beautiful and sometimes ancient pictures of mothers and grandmothers, gorgeous family scenes and family stories, and I love these people. Like. Like. Like. Like. On and on I go, “liking” my way down my Facebook newsfeed, loving people with whom I have so much in common, I am reminded. Love does that.
I deeply enjoy the New Covenant letter of 1 Peter. And there’s this particular verse that comes late in the letter that I want to highlight. Leading up to that verse, Peter reminds the readers (including you and me) that, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, they had been given everything God could give them for free. They all shared in an incredible glory, which means that we share in it, as well. “Grace and peace be yours in abundance,” Peter writes in chapter one. In other words, you all have everything with God because of Jesus, and you have peace with God also because of Jesus. You’ll never lose what you haven’t earned.
Peter then tells them that they had been given a rich inheritance already that could never be diminished, which was being kept for them by God Himself, even as they bashed around in trials and suffering. No matter what, they were secure because of God, The Security Expert. The Word Himself had re-created them of an imperishable, indestructible nature, the same as their Father’s—for always.
Peter continues by writing about their personal significance, their glory shared with God in that they were by design God’s chosen people, royal priests, and together a holy, set-apart nation so that, united with Him, they may proclaim the goodness and greatness of God. Can you imagine the joy they must have had at the reading? He then cautions them about ugly and confusing desires they might experience, which, while having nothing to do with their security and purpose, might hinder and harm their experience. “Watch out for those, don’t let them get you,” he warned.
Peter then wisely counsels them about suffering, which they were evidently experiencing to a higher degree than most, telling them that, while remaining aware of God with and in them, they were to endure it with God, just as Jesus had. Peter elevates their expectation as to what might happen with God in the ugliness of their days: “Think of what He might do with you and in you, right where you are.” He then sets some light guidelines for wives and husbands, as well as for those who might suffer for doing good. The saving grace of all relationships is to keep in their hearts and minds the knowledge that Jesus is their perfect benefactor—their Lord—in everything. He will see to it that they have everything they need for life and godliness. That’s how He is in relationships.
Further, Peter tells them that he understands they will all suffer abuse from friends and maybe even family, who, because they did not understand the change Jesus’ had made in these believers, strongly denounce and ridicule them for their lifestyle changes and beliefs. “Why aren’t you at our wild parties?” These believers, changed by God, had suffered enough with sin in the past, and now enjoyed being free of it. They were no longer slaves to sin. Of course, not everyone was going to appreciate that. Right?
And finally, Peter writes this little, exalted and magnificent sentence: “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
My goodness. In this day when, in my view, we are calling out and seemingly bent upon exposing fellow-Christians for their sins, thinking we must confront them or they’ll get away with it, Peter commands that we truly love first, which covers them over. Wow. He’s not alone in this, either. Paul said as much in Ephesians 5, and elaborated upon it in his first letter to the Corinthians by saying that love keeps no record of wrongs, and that love protects by covering each other. It doesn’t mean that you just cover something over (a wrong or a sin) or that you keep no record; it means that authentic love from God does that. God’s love does that for you. God’s love isn’t looking to expose your sin; instead He covers it. (See 1Corinthians 13:4-8.) In other words, in the security and love that you know from God, go out and love deeply and be safe places for each other. That will be effective for each other. You all have so much in common, including security from God and suffering in this world, so walk together in love.
(This doesn’t mean that a habitual abuser of people, for example, is to be tolerated and enabled; people need to get away from that person and deal with him. Paul wrote about such things in 1 Corinthians 5, and 1 Timothy 1.)
In the light of all that’s happened to you through Christ, in the light of who you are in this world (royal priests!), and in the light of all of the pressures coming against you in this world, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” Just like love covers on Mother’s Day, when just about all we write and talk about is love. It’s beautiful, because love covers. I think a lot of us could use some covering—even today. Who doesn’t like that?