“Love one another deeply from the heart.”

This instruction from 1 Peter is easy to understand. However, it is difficult to follow. According to Eugene Peterson, “Love one another deeply from the heart” is a way of saying love as if your life depends on it, love as though there is nothing else that matters in this world, love in a way that clearly communicates your compassion for family, friends and neighbors (and remember that neighbor in the Bible means any other human).  It is not very difficult to understand. The hard part is learning how to put it into practice.

Preaching a word like this is an act of faith.  All preaching is an act of faith. The only thing any preacher has is a word. We stand up on Sunday mornings believing and hoping that somehow you and I will get a glimpse of the holiness of God.  Preaching is an act of faith.

This act is sometimes propelled forward by our doubts. Yes, preachers have doubts. You might not run into too many TV preachers who will admit that. Part of their mode of operation is to have all the answers and to never let anyone see them with a question mark on their face or in their faith. But if they are honest, there are moments, maybe at 3:00 a.m. when they realize they have doubts too.

Preachers are very much like the father of an epileptic boy in Mark who cries out to Jesus: “I believe; help my unbelief.”  Barbara Brown Taylor says that preachers are stuck right there between those two words: “I believe; help my unbelief.”  Then we climb up the little stairs into the pulpit on Sunday morning and all we have is a word.  That verse of scripture may be the single most common saying among church folks:  “I believe, but it is hard to believe.  I have faith but my doubts are wrapped up inside of it.”

In a world torn by war, poverty and hunger, we have is a word that invites us to “love one another deeply…”  Bring your doubts and your faith and love as if your life depends on it. Love as if the only hope you have of becoming fully human is to give yourself to another in love.

Grace and peace to you,