I’ve decided to do a bit of griping today—but only for one paragraph. Be warned. Here it comes.
The blogosphere is filled with criticism, finger pointing and name-calling between family members. A famous Christian minister says something stupid (and it was stupid) and before you can say “trending topic” he is pummeled by criticism from others within the faith. Someone is hurt by their mistreatment at a local church, so they adopt Lone Ranger status and start a new blog about how the “real” church has nothing to do with organized religion. One faction of believers promotes an opinion and, in response, another faction labels them heretical or dangerous. It’s Jersey Shore for believers, only uglier.
There. I vented for one paragraph. But—no surprise—I don’t feel any better, nor have I changed anyone’s opinion or behavior. We all remain the same.
There’s a more excellent way. In my frustration, I reach for an island of transcendent sanity. I turn the pages until I read: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:7-10)
One phrase shines through the layers of meaning in Peter’s words: “love covers over a multitude of sins.” He is talking about a community of people who gave received the great treasure of God’s grace and are called upon to steward that treasure by how they treat one another. This stewardship includes the kind of love capable of protecting others from themselves: love refuses to reveal the sinfulness of others. To publicly expose the sins of others indicates a lack of love.
Who will help me? In my shameful state I need a love that throws a garment over of my ugly nakedness—the nakedness I have put on display by my selfish, egotistical, controlling words and choices toward others. Who will protect me if not the members of my own family?
This week’s meditation is a quiet reflection and openness toward the Holy Spirit. He can help us explore the depth of our love toward others. We can simply ask him: Does my love cover other's sin?
There's a difference between excusing sin and covering it. Can I hold people—especially members of God’s family--accountable without exposing them?
Our call to steward God’s grace goes beyond our personal relationships and extends to everyone with whom the Father has a personal relationship. It means we learn to love others for simply no other reason than that the Father loves them. It means loving all the church. When I rail against the sins of the church I am simply demonstrating my lack of love for her.
We are each given a stewardship of grace. We can be like the man who foolishly held his one talent and chose not to multiply it. We can keep God’s grace to ourselves, or multiply God’s grace by extending it to others.