The other night, our men’s Bible study spent an hour on one phrase. In a paragraph in 1 Peter 3, Peter writes to a group of Jewish Christians exiled from Rome, living in Turkey. He says show “brotherly love.”
We don’t always take an hour on one phrase, but it seemed important to talk about what it might mean to look at other followers of Jesus and to love them, with the family connection of brothers. Once we got past the idea that brotherly love in some families is less about affection and more about fisticuffs, we had some great conversation.
We talked about the challenge to be proactive in our love rather than just reactive. It’s easy to see a person with a car problem and offer to help. It’s more challenging to build relationship before there are problems.
And we noted that Peter’s early history wasn’t particularly loving. Think through the people Peter was in community with, in the first group of disciples. Peter and his brother Andrew were among the first three disciples. Andrew had time to hang around with John the Baptist, Peter ran the fishing business. In the fishing business, Peter competed with John and James, who were known for their intense personalities. Peter would have had to sell fish and pay taxes to Matthew, another disciple. Peter argued with Jesus, Peter denied knowing Jesus.
I’m not picking on Peter. In fact, many of us have exactly the same personality and positional conflicts with the dozen or so people who sit around the table at Bible studies with us.
When Peter says “show brotherly love”, he knows the challenge we face. And his life reflects a commitment to the one person who can bring incompatible people together. Peter’s letters, and his life, are full of Jesus.