"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. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God."
1 Peter 1:22 and 23
During this week's study, I was contemplating love. Love that is defined in the above verses. It made me think of something that happened almost 2 years ago.
I was reading a book that detailed human evil. I read a particular story that disturbed me so greatly that I slapped the book closed and hid it under several other books. I couldn't even look at the book anymore. Anger, that I hope was righteous, and sorrow overtook me.
Days later I was driving. A song about God's love played on the radio.
"Thank You, God, for loving me," I prayed.
"I love them, too," I felt Him say. I knew He meant the people in that book that did all of those terrible, evil things.
"That isn't fair," I thought. "It isn't right and it isn't fair."
"But I do love them," I felt His words again. "And you need to, as well."
That was it. Well, until I heard that song again. And I realized that the evil, the pain that those people inflicted on others hurt the heart of God. Because of the victim and because of the perpetrator.
As much as I didn't want to, I prayed that God would help me to love them. Not accept their deeds. No. Never that. But to love them. Sometimes being purified by obeying the truth is painful, laborious and all together unpleasant.
But as I tried to obey, I realized something that broke my heart. I'd never worked that hard to love in all my life. Not even my brothers and sisters in Christ. There were some Christians that I just did not love deeply. Parts of the imperishable seed, the image of God made me angry or hurt me. And I didn't fight to maintain my love for them.
This realization made me fall flat. I repented. Then God asked me to reconcile with specific people. It was terrifying. It made me physically ill from the anxiety of it. But the obedience was purifying. Some of the relationships were not restored. Forgiveness was reached. Then other relationships were saved. Renewed. Better than ever before.
And that's the purifying. Sincere love brings us to a tiny bit better understanding of the incomprehensible love of our Heavenly Father.