Written by Vicki Kemper
1 Peter 4:7-11
The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received. Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.
Is there someone (or some group) you don’t like because of their politics, theology, or other personal preferences? Call this person (or group) to mind and, trying to put aside all the disagreements and dislikes, view them as a beloved child of God. Say a prayer for their well-being.
Now turn your prayer focus inward. What are your sins that keep you from loving certain people? Ask God to forgive you for the ways in which you have written certain people off, reduced them to nothing more than a bundle of bumper stickers, or, worse yet, cultivated personal hostility toward them. Ask God to heal the wounds and take away the fears that make it hard for you to love.
Imagine what our nation and our world—even our families and churches—might be like if we were able to “maintain constant love” for all kinds of people. How can we create situations in which such love can flourish? How can you nurture such habits of loving within yourself?
Multitude of Sins
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.— 1 Peter 4:8
How the subject came up I don't recall. We were sharing another breakfast of eggs, grits, bacon, biscuits, and gravy, the coda to a week filled with comfort food heavy as the humid Mississippi air.
Our time together had been rich, too. Sequestered from our real lives, infused with inspiration, united in a common task, all our needs supplied, we had fallen in love with one another. It was that Stockholm syndrome kind of love: born of an intense shared experience, our knowledge of each other only an inch wide but a mile deep.
Under different circumstances, our mutual affection might have been stymied by the details of personal preference and position—politics, theology, insufferable personality tics. But we had back-burnered all that to focus on a craft that required us to be both brave and vulnerable. Day by day, fondness grew alongside respect.
Then, on our last morning together, one of my colleagues shared a story that might have forever altered my perception of him. On a matter of great importance to me, he had taken a public stand I could neither understand nor abide.
In any other situation, I might have tried to tell him how I felt and where I stood. More likely, I would have given him a piece my mind and then closed my heart, writing him off as one of "those people."
But I couldn't begin to do that. Why? Because I already loved him. Because I knew well his integrity and held dear his humanity. Because I already loved him, I couldn't go all judge-y on him.
Why? Because love covers a multitude of sins—not his, but mine; not someone else's, but ours.
Great Merciful God, cover my sins with your love, that I might be changed.