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Thanksgiving for Covered Sin!

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

In my lifetime, not since the Vietnam war has our nation been so fractured—and those divisions cut right into the church. Just look at all the controversies! Who were your preferred candidates in the election? How should we deal with its agonizing aftermath? How do we respond to charges of systemic racism, and those who protest it either lawfully or violently? How should we oppose an entrenched, government-supported abortion industry?[1] How does the church resist today’s gender confusion and a culture that increasingly marginalizes those who believe in “traditional” definitions of both gender (man & woman) and sexual morality (for marriage)? Now throw border security and immigration into the cauldron—the “undocumented workers” vs. “illegal aliens” debate. So are you hot under the collar yet?

Facemasks – getting old

(You don’t know anyone in this church. It’s from somewhere in the UK.)

And those are just the old issues! Consider the new ones brought on by a tiny virus: How do we respond to government mandates to restrain the pandemic? What do you think about facemasks, social-distancing, restrictions on gatherings, business closures, taking a vaccine, and Zoom meetings? Choose your issue, take your side, and fight! If you want to split a church, this is your finest hour.

But before you do…take a deep breath…and hear the apostle Peter’s admonition to God’s people. Above all, as top priority, love one another earnestly; that adverb stems from the verb “to extend or stretch.”[2] It might feel like a stretch to love Christians you believe are way off base—maybe even sinful—in their opinions and how they demonstrate them. Perhaps they are, and you need to speak the truth to them. But…take another deep breath…first listen carefully to them. None of us are relativists; we all believe in absolute truth, and we see it right there in the Bible. But we don’t see everything in the Bible, nor do we see with perfect accuracy, so we all stumble when we try to walk in “the Way.”[3] But when the Lord uses our brothers and sisters to illumine our blind spots, we can walk together and we’ll stumble a lot less.

Video meetings – really getting old

(You don’t know anyone in this screen shot. It’s from a Zoom instruction video.)

Peter urges another reason to love: love covers a multitude of sins.[4] Love takes no delight in exposing and focusing on others’ faults and sins, but covers them in mercy. “The love of the saints keeps stretching, in both depth and endurance, ‘to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge….’ It is the reach of God’s love that stretches our love…. Our love cannot, of course, pay the price of sin. Christ did that. But our love can imitate the mercy of God; our love can forgive, and forgiveness always pays a price.”[5]

John Perkins, World Magazine’s 2020 “Daniel of the Year,”[6] has paid that price. During his childhood in Mississippi, a police officer senselessly shot and killed John’s older brother, and at age 39 the police brutally beat John for his civil rights activities. Now at age 91, Perkins speaks with a wisdom and authority the church must hear. His take on racial conflict is both shocking and refreshing. He urges us to strive for “multiethnic” or “biblical” reconciliation rather than fixating on race. “There is no black race—and there is no white race. So the idea of ‘racial reconciliation’ is a false idea. It’s a lie. It implies that there is more than one race. The concept of the black race and the white race originated with the Enemy himself. All people, all kindred, all nations, all tongues. One blood.”

John Perkins – old…and very wise

In the end, only a Gospel-driven mindset permeating the entire church will allow us to listen, to speak, and to learn from each other—yet still remain unified even when we profoundly disagree on certain issues. The stakes are high. As John Perkins says, “If we are going to help others understand who Jesus is, our own lives must reflect His character and love. It is at this precise moment that the watching world gets a glimpse of Him.” May we believe, and proclaim, and live out that Great News of our Savior, born in a manger, Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! [7]

Many blessings to you in this Thanksgiving & Christmas season!

[1] Responsible for the deaths of over 60 million infants in the U.S. since 1973, according to National Right to Life Committee. [2] ἐκτενῆς (ektenēs) occurs only here in the NT. Perhaps it is a metaphorical use of stretched out—at “maximum potential.” [3] Acts 9:2; 24:14

[4] Peter quotes Proverbs 10:12, Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses. Such “covering” often means dropping the matter entirely, but sometimes involves active engagement with a view toward repentance: Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses (27:5-6). This attitude is toward both believers and unbelievers. [5] Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter: The Way of the Cross (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988), p. 180. The Scripture quote is Ephesians 3:18-19.

[6] Quotes are from the 11/21/20 issue. Full article at I met this godly man in the mid-1970s and remember him for his gentleness, humility, courage, love for his enemies, and his single-minded commitment to serve Christ no matter the cost. He has impacted many for service in Christ’s Kingdom.

[7] Matthew 1:21; Psalm 32:1; Romans 4:7


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