Love Like Jesus
1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)
"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins."
Sometimes this passage is misinterpreted to mean that our love for each other blots out our sin. Make no mistake: The only love that can cancel out sin is the love of Jesus manifested in His death on the cross.
What scripture is talking about here is the unconditional love and acceptance that should be present in the Body of Christ creating an environment where we feel safe and secure to confess our sins to one another and repent.
Scripture talks about that here as well, as it paints this picture of how the church ought to function in the epistle of James.
James 5: 16 (NIV)
"...confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."
Sadly, in most church fellowships that love and acceptance is not present. This results in an environment where we dare not confess our faults to each other for fear we will become fodder for the gossip mill.
So we come to the one place on earth where we should be able to be real and we put a mask on and hide what we are feeling, what we are thinking, and what we are struggling with.
There is no doubt in my mind that the epidemic we are currently seeing in moral failures, scandals among pastors and church leaders has it's roots in the lack of “love" present in the church. In most cases, these leaders were too proud or too isolated to seek out accountability partners.
For every high profile leader who fails, there are scores of deacons, elders, teachers and others in the church who suffer the same fate out of the spotlight. You don't dare come to church and admit you are struggling and need prayer, help and support, so you suffer in silence while your life crumbles around you.
This lack of "love" in the church is the spirit of the Pharisees, not that of Jesus! When Jesus encountered those struggling with sin He responded with compassion and understanding, saying "I don't condemn you, follow Me and sin no more." He did this, even though He is the only person who has the right to condemn sinners. You and I don't have that right.
We are like the Pharisees with rocks in their hands waiting to throw them at the sinful woman. When Jesus reminded them of their own sin, one by one they dropped their stones and walked away, knowing they were every bit as guilty as she.
Covering up sin will only result in repeating the same behavior. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and participate in small groups and begin to be totally transparent and hold each other accountable.
You cannot put a price on a clear conscience, and the knowledge that there are people who know you completely yet love you anyway.
It is in this environment that you can begin to understand the unconditional love that God loves you with. And you realize that you aren't the "Lone Ranger." Your brothers and sisters are struggling in the same areas that you are struggling in!