Do you have one? A favorite, angelic verse that speaks – no, sings – to you; that lulls you to sleep at night and whispers you awake in the morning again? That sometimes turns into an almost-Satanic verse by shouting at you when you’re wearily burying your head in your pillow and trumpeting you out of bed before dawn?
Right now, my bedevilling, blessing verse is I Peter 4:8:
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
I’m the first to admit I don’t fully understand the implications of those 14 words. I know they’re important, because it’s the second time Peter says many of them in the span of one letter.
I know they’re important, because they’re preceded by the phrase “Above all”.
I know love is important, because that’s a word that personifies God.
I know “each other” is important, because our mutual love and unity was uppermost in Jesus’ thoughts when praying the night before He gave His life for us.
I know love obscures a lot of sin. Love makes it easier to ignore my kids’ tiny crimes and microscopic misdemeanors when I want them to be perfect like I can’t be.
I know God’s love has the power to render it invisible, washed clean away by the sacrificial blood of Christ and rinsed for good measure by the baptism that mirrors it.
I know the toughest word in the whole sentence is “deeply,” because it’s easy to love (puppies can do it); it’s easy to prioritize (bureaucrats can do it); it’s easy to hide sins (politicians and celebrities do it all the time) but to do anything deeply is bound to be hard.
Study. Believe. Care. I can do all that, and sometimes deeply. But to love deeply, especially those imperfect folks who make up my surround of “each others,” is not easy.
What I really don’t know is how.
And then I remember:
- We learn by hearing.
- We learn by repeating.
- We learn by watching.
- We learn by imitating.
- We learn by doing.
Well … right now, I’m only at the repeating stage with this verse.
But as I keep learning it, its voice is growing softer; it’s losing its horns and starting to grow white wings.