Today, read 2 Peter 1.
In this chapter, Peter wrote to a group of unspecified believers (vv. 1-2), reminding them that what Christ has done for us is sufficient for our godliness in this life (v. 3). He also spoke of the promises Christ has made for eternal life (v. 4). Based on all this, then, he encouraged these believers–and us–to pursue godliness in our daily lives now (vv. 5-9). At the end of the list of qualities we should be cultivating are two: “mutual affection” and “love” (v. 7c-d). Remember that we are called to add mutual affection first, then add “to mutual affection, love.” Aren’t these describing the same thing?
No, they are not the same. Mutual affection is a form of love–a very important form of it. But the “mutual” aspect of it means that there is giving and receiving on both sides. This is the loving aspect of fellowship within the body of Christ. As Jesus forms his body, bringing us together into local assemblies, we meet others who become our friends due to shared faith in Christ. That friendship means that we rejoice together at times, we weep together at times, we share financial resources when needed, we pray for each other, we show hospitality to each other, and so on. That’s mutual affection and it is an important part of the body of Christ.
God calls us not only to love those who love us, but to love those who don’t love us. We are to love our enemies, according to Jesus. We also will encounter people in the church who are fellow believers with us but are hard to love. Our personalities do not mesh well or we just don’t have a lot in common. It is not a problem or a sin to like some people more than others or to have stronger relationships with some people more than others.
But personal spiritual growth calls us to go beyond loving those that we love naturally and who love us back. Just as Christ loved us when we were his enemies and were lovely, we are now commanded to grow in grace by loving beyond mutual affection. This means learning to give without expecting (or even getting) anything in return. It means seeking what’s best for others and putting their needs before ours.
Is that kind of love something you’re cultivating in your life? Are you thinking about what’s best for your family and friends and seeking for ways to help in those areas? Are you looking out for those who are overlooked and possibly unloved in our church or around you and seeking to love them?