Formed in Jesus to Love

1 Peter 1:3-5, 22-25
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 22Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 2but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

If this verse doesn’t blow your mind, nothing will. We all know what it is to be “born” because, well, here we are. Each of you have a birth day. And while you may not remember it (if you do, please contact me and let me know about that!) the fact that you are here, reading this, proves you had a birth day. But in the passage, Peter boldly uses the words “born again”. If you take the Greek phrase and break it apart, you find it literally says, “cause again to be born”.

As we examine this “born again” miracle, we see that we are not the authors of this rebirth. Nicodemus questions Jesus about his ability to climb back into his mother’s womb. That would require his action and is, of course, ridiculous. But this is where the miraculous hand of God comes into action. We are not responsible for our rebirth any more than we are responsible for our physical birth. We are reborn when the Holy Spirit brings us to faith – either by the Word and/or by Baptism. And that rebirth demands action – we are to love one another.

That sounds easy, right? But if given just a few moments of self-examination, we realize it is far from easy. How good are you at actually loving other people? What does that love look like in your every-day life? Or is it just a matter of lip service to an idea? Maybe those questions don’t haunt you, but they do me. When honest, I must admit that my love is often shallow and frequently self-serving. And I’m just enough of a cynic to believe I’m not alone in that attitude. Sin pervades.

But – this passage points to a deeper truth that bring hope and joy. God has caused us to be born again into the saving work of Jesus Christ. My sin-filled attempts at loving others are made new in the blood of Jesus. He brings redemption into every corner of my life and with that redemption comes love – the ability to truly love others with intention and action. My rebirth, brought about by the Holy Spirit serves not only me, but the people around me, for in that rebirth, I am able to act with the pure love of God as my motivation and empowerment. As with all things, to God be the glory!