If they gave out Oscars for pretend love there'd be a lot of nominees because unfortunately we all can be pretty good at pretending we love other people when we don't.
We have had so much training at being fake we can do it at moment's notice.
If I called your house and you were screaming at your kids, how would you answer? Hello, how are you, great, great...
I rest my case.
Since we've had so much practice at pretending, we easily master the skill of saying the right things and looking like we care about other people when inside we don't really care a bit.
Peter says if you are a Christian that kind of "love" just doesn't cut it.
"Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart..."
In down to earth terms that means when it comes to loving other people:
It's not enough to just sit there waiting for your turn to talk, pretending like you are listening, you need to listen.
It's not enough to simply say how sorry you are and how much you care and how you will do anything for the person you are talking to, you need to care.
It's not enough to make all sorts of promises to someone that you don't have any intention of keeping, you need to do what you say.
It is not enough to act like you like someone and then go home and say all sorts of terrible things about your spouse to them, you need to be kind.
In other words, it's not enough to be nice.
It is easy to do nice because it is easy to be fake. All nice requres of you is to put on a show, which is why if all the Bible called us to was to be nice to each other, I don't think many people would have all that many objections. Anybody can do nice.
But you start defining what Peter means when he commands us to love one another earnestly from a pure heart, getting specific about waht that looks like, being involved in other Christian's lives, going out of your way to be committed to the people in your local church, and things are going to get pretty heated because this kind of love requires time, it requires effort, it requires going out of your way, it requires putting others ahead of yourself, it requires doing things you don't necessarily like to do, it requires dealing with the sins that are going on in your heart, it requires that you actually change and do something different than you are doing right now, it requires commitment, it requires sacrifice.
Start calling people to love each other like that, and you'll find all sorts of nice people who would never object to the idea of loving other people have a whole lot of objections when it comes to putting it into practice.
Some people will look at this command to love one another people sincerely and be like, I flat out can't. I can do nice, but this, it's too much.
I want you to know if you have ever felt like that, I appreciate what you are feeling. It means at least you've heard what the Bible's calling you to. You know how difficult people can be and you know your own heart and the kinds of things you think about people and it feels like an almost impossible task to go from where you are to loving other people sincerely from the heart.
I get that, I understand that, I've felt that, but we need to remember, if we are Christians I can't really is I won't.
The Bible doesn't just say love one another, Peter doesn't just call us to love sincerely, before he even gets to what we are supposed to do he talks about why we are supposed to do it and he says in verse 22 that we are to love each other like this because of something that's already taken place in our lives, we have "purified our souls by our obedience to the truth.
What he's saying is that if we are believers something has happened to us. This verse is past tense. It looks back to something that took place in our lives, "having purified our souls."
Before we were Christians our hearts were full of selfishness. But then we heard the truth about Jesus, we believed in Him, we understood that life was all about Him and so we gave our lives to Him. We responded to the truth by obeying, and as a result things changed for us. Whe we submitted our lives to Christ, one of the most exciting changes was that God cleansed our hearts from all the dirt and grime that had built up in it, which means that when it comes to our relationships with other believers we can't use the filth from our past as an excuse.
We can't be like that's just the way my parents were.
We can't be like that's just the way I am.
No, when we believed the gospel God set us free so that we could do things we never could do before and one of the things He has enabled us to do is love our brothers sincerely; which I think you'll all agree makes not doing that pretty ugly.
It may be difficult to love other people, but we can love other Christians sincerely and if we aren't, it is becasue we won't. And that is a major problem, because loving other Christians sincerely is one of the reasons God has purified our hearts in the first place.