Picture this scene: you are walking through the woods in an area of some mountainous terrain. You hear a rumble ahead, see some rising clouds of dust and also hear some cries for help.
And so you run ahead to see what has happened and discover there has been a rock slide off the edge of the path. A hiker ahead of you has been caught up in it but is hanging perilously onto the exposed roots of a tree. He cannot in his own strength pull himself up to safety and is dangling over a precipitous fall with serious injury or death at the bottom.
He is within reach if you lie down flat and stretch out to him. But as you begin to do so, you have some second thoughts … “Is this fellow worth saving?” And so you hold back for a moment from fulling stretching out your arm.
And again, you think … “Has this fellow ever done anything for me, or would be ever do something to assist me in the future?” And you hesitate to reach out fully.
And then another thought hits you … “What if he pulls me down with him? Maybe I should just walk on by and hope for another person who is better gifted to pull him up, or possibly there is just such a person nearby.”
What would you do? Well of course you would stretch out your arm fully to help a person from falling. Would you be more likely to do it for someone you know, versus someone unknown? I suppose so. Would you particularly extend your arm if it was your sibling, or a member of your family? Why yes!
I’m glad you agree with this, and pleased that you see the person hesitating as ridiculously uncaring and self-absorbed. And of course this means that you will extend any possible effort to help anyone else in need who is of the church family of faith.
Peter said this is how you should love others …
1:22 – 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.
The Greek word for “sincere” means to be without hypocrisy. And so to love non-hypocritically means to love one another deeply. And since we’re getting deep here and into the Greek roots, what is the original meaning and picture for “deeply?” It is a term that literally means “fully stretched out and completely extended,” and hence by translation it carries the idea of being fervent, strenuous, or fully earnest.
That is a high calling to love in this way; and it is one that should be an immediate challenge we take deeply into our lives for examination. Did we move around church and interact with the others there this past Sunday with such an action and attitude? How might we do that this next week?
This is a way of making an eternal impact, not just something that lasts in this life …
23 – For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For, “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, 25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
And this is the word that was preached to you.
Again, while calling upon the temporal versus the eternal, the entire exposition we have been studying in recent days is an exhortation to life investment in the stuff that never perishes — and that is the truth of God’s Word and its application in the lives of others.
This word, this truth, was at some point preached to us and we became God’s family through it. We should now be people of this truth: with each other and before a watching and perishing world of people who have bought into all categories of lies and death and dying ideas and values.
Don’t hold back in serving God by serving others. Stretch out fully.