One of the interesting challenges of going on any mission trip out of the country is the water situation. We are truly spoiled in our nation in that we have reasonably clean drinking water available straight from the tap virtually everywhere. It may taste (or smell) different in different geographical areas (I still feel sorry for Florida residents), but we assume that our tap water is fairly safe to drink.
If you travel to a developing nation however, the water sources are not quite so trustworthy. When we travel to Mexico, any water other than sealed, bottled water is off limits. Montezuma still reigns in Mexico – just ask anyone who has put ice in their soft drink or brushed their teeth from the tap. When we travel to Jamaica, the water situation is a little more sketchy. Generally speaking, the tap water is safe to drink because the United States is responsible for building the water system. However, not all tap water is created equal. Much of the running water in the mountains is pressurized by gravity and fed from cisterns that collects rainwater. Looking in those cisterns is not a good idea because you will see water that has got lots of things floating in it and green, slimy stuff on the walls. The water that comes out of the spigot may look clear, but its source is anything but pure.
Peter contrasts this idea of pure and impure at the end of 1 Peter 1. He reminds the church that they have been purified by Jesus “for sincere love of the brothers” and that Christians are to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” This heart attitude is a side-effect of the Gospel. Like an untouched mountain stream, so the love of the saints experienced within the body of Christ should be pure and holy, not tainted by dangerous spiritual pollutants.
What sort of spiritual pollutants can defile the pure well of love experienced within the church? Peter lists some at the start of the second chapter – malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. There are certainly more, but this is a good list to start with. All of these are relationship killers. Malice is anger turned vengeful. Deceit is dishonesty with the intent to mislead or do harm. Hypocrisy is inconsistent spiritual behavior determined by circumstances or present company. Envy is lust after the position, achievement, or possessions of another that hopes for the downfall of the one being envied. Slander is misrepresentation of another person with the intent to do harm.
When these sort of things arise within the local church, it will not typically go well for that local church. It is for this reason that Peter challenges Christians to “rid themselves” of these dangerous emotions. He doesn’t say, “keep them to a minimum.” He commands that these things should be put away completely from the life of the local church. The love experienced within the Body of Christ should be pure and undefiled, not polluted with the sins of selfish ambition.
So, have you seen any of these fellowship-killing sins in your heart? Have you noticed that you envy another’s position? Or that you harbor ill-will toward someone? Are you a different person to different people? Perhaps it is time to let your heart be purified by Jesus, and let your love flow from a clean source, not from one stained by sin.
Therefore, love one another!