“love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22, NKJV)
Peter features prominently in the last chapter of John’s Gospel. When His disciples had finished the breakfast prepared by the risen Christ, Jesus turned to Peter and asked him if he loved Him. Peter immediately affirms his love. But Jesus asked the question again, to which Peter reaffirms his love. When Jesus asks the question a third time, John records that Peter was grieved and responded emphatically that he loved Jesus.
Following each of these exchanges, Jesus gave Peter the change to care for His sheep. Peter’s love for his Lord was to prompt his shepherding the flock of Christ. Toward the end of his letter, Peter will align himself with the elders of the church calling them to shepherd the flock in the name of the chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5:1-4).
While we might make several observations, the one most relevant at this stage of Peter’s letter is that all of the blessings Peter has thus far described belong to a community. We are sheep who are part of a flock that has been redeemed by Christ. We are to be holy because God is holy (1 Pet. 1:16) and incorporated into a holy nation (1 Pet. 2:9). By God’s grace and saving purpose, we are born again into the family of God.
We can see the community aspect in Peter’s admonition. “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:22–23).
Peter will explain what it looks like to love in this community of God’s love, but for now he simply urges us to love one another from the heart. He uses words to qualify our love: sincerely, earnestly, from the heart. We love Him who first loved us and we love those He loves.
REFLECTION: New birth begets new love. Pray to love as you have been loved.
Unless noted otherwise, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.