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CALL : +685 24414
FAX 20429
5th Floor John Williams Building
Tamaligi, Apia

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Thursday 20 February
Covering a multitude of sins

 

Read 1 Peter 4:1–11
Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that
God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. (verse 11)

When I was a university chaplain, I used occasionally to meet students who were exploring Christianity and who wanted answers to their questions. Among the regular queries, one stood out: what constitutes sin, and what are the consequences of sinning? What am I allowed to do?

Defining sin, and identifying sinful acts, has been an ongoing struggle for the church. Perhaps the first readers of this letter, relatively new to this emerging religion, wondered this, too. They knew that certain kinds of behaviour would be wrong, including those associated with the festivals of their former ‘gods’. But what should they be aiming for?

It is very tempting to produce lists of good and bad behaviours. We like clarity and precision in our codes of conduct. It feels unfair to be held to account if we don’t know exactly what’s expected of us. The mark of an unreasonable legal system is one in which no one knows what the laws require or what the penalty might be. But this passage doesn’t deal in the specifics. Some broad guidelines are summarised, in verse 7 onwards, by the call to be serious and disciplined in prayer, to love and care for one another and to use their gifts for the glory of God. This may be disconcertingly imprecise. But it is also, surely, very liberating! We are not judged against an ethical tick-list, but called to respond to God’s love by loving God and our neighbour. If we can build that kind of love, the details will fall into place, because ‘love covers a multitude of sins’ (verse 8).

† Loving God, you call us to love. Help us to be more concerned with love of you and of others than with our own salvation, in faith that, in your love, our salvation is secure. Amen