Love a Way to Faith
1 Peter 1:6-9
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:…

You notice that in the apostle's words love comes before belief. This is certainly not what we should have expected. How can we love before we believe? Must we not first feel convinced of the reality of Christ and the genuineness of His claims? And yet, if we take the case of one who saw Christ, is it not clear that love to Him must have preceded faith? Would not love spring up at once in witnessing some act of Christ or listening to some of His words? And yet faith may have involved more difficulty. It was impossible not to love; but how was it possible to believe, in spite of all the difficulties lying in their expectations regarding the Messiah? Nay; do we not see the love of the disciples to their Master actually struggling to attain to faith in the face of their old beliefs? Love took no heed of these obstacles. For it, in view of Christ, there was no obstruction. It went straight to its object. But faith could not avoid the encounter. It had to grapple with its enemies. Is the case different with men now? Do not men in general learn to love Christ before they ever ask the question of His reality and the genuineness of His claims? And here the first thing that strikes us is the adaptation of the Gospels especially, and also, but not so markedly, of the Epistles to awaken love above all. The appeal is not made mainly and directly to the understanding and reason. Men are not argued with. There is no elaborate demonstration presented. There is no shutting up of men by inexorable logic. On the contrary, there is a picture presented of a great and marvellous life and a death of outward ignominy but transcendent moral glory. Observe how insinuating this appeal to love is. It works itself into your heart before you are aware. You are surprised into admiration and into love. The life of Jesus is so exquisitively human, so full of little touches that mean nothing to the bare intellect, but are mighty with the heart. The great qualities of Christ have the effect of rousing some answering feelings in the souls of men. Every truly elevated life has such an influence; but that of Christ in an altogether transcendent manner, Men, in this way, by a personal attachment to Christ, or admiration of Him, or enthusiasm for Him, according as their particular bent may be, grow into a love of all things noble and pure. And then another result appears. Keeping pace with this love of righteousness, penitence shows itself. A sense of sin, and a bitter shame on account of it, grows on the man who earnestly admires Christ. What takes place when this stage is reached? The man is now in a position to appreciate the rich and tender things which Christ utters about forgiveness. And now he comes to understand that Christ is a Saviour. Whenever sin is felt to be a burden, a deeper insight is gained into Christ. And now faith in Christ has been reached. The needs of the soul, combining with love to Christ, have called out faith. They have made Christ real. When faith in Christ begins to work, then love becomes both wider and more earnest. Then love feels obligation. It feels that it has got a task to fulfil and a debt to discharge. Faith becomes henceforward the great feeder and tributary of love, bringing down supplies to it from all the mountains of truth and showers of grace. Let us notice one or two inferences from this line of thought. We see how love to an unseen Christ operates in keeping Him near to the soul in spite of the lapse of centuries. There are humble, earnest souls today in myriads that feel Christ more real and nearer than many who had seen Him in the flesh. How finely the natural and the spiritual blend in love to Christ! There are those who never seem to get beyond the natural. They love Christ as they love any great benefactor of the world. And who can tell just precisely when his love to Christ rose out of this sphere, and became spiritual; or when any such love becomes spiritual, aspiring, and active? Is not all true love to good and right at bottom and ultimately a love to God, if only it knew itself? Must we not speak of it as both an inspiration and an instrument of the Spirit of God who besets men everywhere and broods over them? Is not the manifestation of Christ the one grand means by which this latent love of goodness is kindled and lifted up, and recognises its centre and home? Is not the immense power that Christ has over the natural admiration of men one of His own greatest weapons and one of the things which the Spirit of God most uses? And is not this one of the main adaptations of the gospel to the whole world? And if a man attempts no tour round the world, but simply seeks what medicine he can apply to human hearts, what antidote he can find for sin and woe, how he can touch souls, and win them out of despondency and darkness, hardness and sloth and shame into light and love and joy; if he is only intent on sweetening and ennobling human life, he will find there is but one simple, ready, efficacious universal means, the story of that marvellous life and death — love to the unseen Christ

(J. Leckie, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

WEB: Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been put to grief in various trials,

Joy Unspeakable
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