God saves us for a life of love, especially love for one another. The call to live a holy life includes proper relationships among church members. Peter is writing to a suffering church and encouraging them to live a “normal” Christian life. That is, he is telling them that love for one another should not be extinguished by the winds of persecution, just as they should not be extinguished by the gentle breezes of comfort and convenience. Peter presents earnest love among church members as the hallmark of being converted.
Be Loving Because Your Lives Have Been Set Apart by Obedience to the Truth (verse 22)
Peter takes for granted that all believers have begun walking in “obedience to the truth.” Obedience here refers to the initial obedience of believing the gospel, repenting of sin, and trusting in Christ (c.f. Romans 1:5; 15:18, 16:19). Rightly receiving the truth involves not just hearing, reciting, or affirming; but obeying. Obedience to the truth is a transformation of life, especially in how we treat others—i.e., in love. Love is the goal of conversion, and therefore, believers should strive to “fervently love one another from the heart.” Though we will be closer to certain people, fervent love for one another involves cordiality to all who are in Christ and avoidance of none.
Love is not warm, fuzzy feeling or merely folks having fun. Love is a righteous relationship with one another based on God’s character. Your relationship with God is not only an individual matter but corporate. The Christian life cannot authentically be lived in isolation from other believers. Love for one another is the plumb line or measuring stick for our holiness. We cannot gauge our spiritual growth merely by biblical knowledge or even church attendance. Instead, we gauge our growth in holiness by how we treat others with our words, thoughts, and deeds—both when we are around them and when we are apart from them. We must not only love God, who is perfectly holy, but we must also love others, who are not so lovely.
Be Loving Because You Have Been Born Again to an Eternal Nature, Whose Essence is Love (verses 23-25)
Being born again (i.e., regeneration) comes with great expectations. It does not merely produce the potential for change, but it creates actual change. One area of actual change is that God is now your Father, and if He is your Father, then fellow Christians are your brothers and sisters. The instrument God uses to bring about this change is the Word of God (c.f. Ezekiel 37). The gospel, or the Word of God, not only brings new life initially, but it also abides in us and continues to change us through our obedience to the truth.
The fact that this gospel is living and enduring is of utmost benefit for us since it means we are not birthed and then abandoned. Instead, we are nurtured, carried, and taught in an ongoing fashion. This rebirth is enduring because the Word of God is imperishable, living forever. The best flower in the field decays, but the work of God’s Word in the life of the believer is permanent!
It is the preaching of the Word of God alone that produces life. There are lots of methods, gimmicks, and strategies created by men in an attempt to be more effective in evangelism, but only one method—God’s method—will accomplish the goal. The eternal word of God is the only means God uses to awaken new, eternal life in an unbeliever.
- How much of a priority do you place on love? Do you fervently love your brothers and sisters in Christ? In what ways is that love expressed? In what ways do you need to repent for lack of love?
- The Word of God alone is the means that God uses to convert sinners to Himself. Conversion is never owed the quality of our arguments or the example of our life but to God Himself by means of His Word. How does this truth affect the way you evangelize? In what ways does this truth instill greater confidence to proclaim the truth of the gospel to those around us?