Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. 1 Peter 1:22
“Love one another deeply, from the heart.” That phrase grabbed my attention this morning because it’s easy to skim over, but incredibly challenging to really do! We can only risk loving others when
we are secure ourselves, sure of God’s love for us.
Without this firm foundation, we can’t help but approach people as beings that exist only to meet our needs, and that does not result in loving others well! Only God can really fill all that’s lacking in our hearts and souls, and he’s happy to do that.
There was a long period in my life that I wasn’t open to loving people deeply, at least not anyone outside of my family. I decided at some point long ago, that people are just too risky. I struggle with the fear of rejection and abandonment quite often, and no matter how great relationships began, they seemed doomed to trigger these fears eventually. I’d become disappointed and hurt and eventually decide it wasn’t worth it. I didn’t have the grace necessary for broken people, though I am one myself. I expected them to meet the needs only God can meet.
These tiresome and painful patterns changed when I realized the relationship I most need to invest time and effort in is
my relationship with God.
That needs to be my foundation. We may try to build a solid, sturdy foundation on people alone, but we will find it’s impossible. No matter how well we prepare the ground and attempt to build a quality structure, it’s bound to have defects that will lead to its destruction.
God is able to be that perfect friend to each of us.
He alone will never let us down. He won’t reject us or leave us or change his mind about our worth. We don’t need to keep him at a distance, we can embrace him fully and find his love alone really fills our emptiness and completes us like no person can. There is no limit to the intimacy we can have with God, no boundaries we need to worry about. He’s a deep ocean that we are able to dive into and explore for eternity. There’s always more to him and more that he seeks to teach us as we stay close to him.
As we grow in the absolute security God gives us, we find our neediness and demands on our human relationships lessen. We can start putting our focus on what other people need instead of desperately trying to use people to fill our own gaping needs. We realize every person has wounds and fears that do make them risky but we can now risk where we weren’t able to in the past.
We slowly find a core group of close friends that wants to live life similarly. We offer accountability to one another and challenge each other to live upright and godly lives. As Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” And, let me say, we all start pretty dull! We find we need to encourage one another constantly, confront one another’s glaring faults and learn to live together in an atmosphere of grace, trust and love. From there we reach out to all the people God brings into our lives. We learn to love deeply and share what we’re learning to offer help to those around us.
It’s an ingenious set up really. True, before sin entered the equation, relationships didn’t take so much work! One day, in heaven, they will be natural and easy again. But while we live in this fallen, sinful world, God equips us to function well and overcome all our brokenness to love and be loved well. The more we grow in him and allow him to fill our hearts with his amazing, perfect, healing love, the more our capacity increases to offer love to others. We can handle the imperfections and wounds human relationships will have because they are not our primary source of identity. God alone satisfies our deepest needs and works to heal our deepest wounds. So now we really can, “love one another deeply, from the heart.”