The call to love each other

The chosen exiles – the scatterlings of God – are called to love each other. A sermon on 1 Peter 1:22-25 by Rev. Colin Pretorius.

In her book The Hiding Place, Corrie ten Boom recalls meeting a guard from the concentration camp in which her sister had died and where she herself had been subjected to awful humiliations. She says:[1]

It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing centre at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there—the room­ful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often [of] the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side. Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? “Lord Jesus,” I prayed, “forgive me and help me to forgive him.” I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. “Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.” As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

It is about this type of love that the apostle Peter also writes in our passage for today, but be­fore we look at our text, let’s briefly think back to what we’ve learnt from this letter so far. You may re­mem­ber that the letter is written to the believers who have been scattered across a number of provinces in what is now part of Turkey. Peter is writing to encourage them, to com­fort them in their time of great difficulty and possibly also in persecution. And he does this by reminding them first of all that they are the chosen people of God – they are the elect of God.

[1] Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (Grand Rapids, MI.: Chosen Books, 1971), 215.