Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4: 8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” In the Greek, the word “deeply” literally means to â€˜stretch outâ€™. It denotes the tense muscle activity of an athlete–like a football player â€œstretching outâ€ to kick the ball. While living in Ecuador, I noticed that the thighs of the football/soccer players were huge. They were constantly exercising their leg muscles.
In the same way we need to exercise our muscle of forgiveness and love toward those who hurt us, rub us the wrong way, and generally make us feel uncomfortable.
And remember that Peter was writing these words to house churches. Small groups often make our live’s more uncomfortable, rather than comfortable. They force us to face our irritations and conflicts with fellow believers. We can either be honest and openly communicate about our feelings–thus growing in love and mercy–or we can walk away and look for another cell (and most likely we’ll face similar problems in the next cell).
I have one person in my own cell who rubs me wrong–AND I IRRITATE THIS PERSON! We’ve had to openly talk about painful, difficult areas on several occassions. But you know what? I’ve grown to respect this person. Why? Because we met our conflict in a biblical manner.
It’s easy to go to church on Sunday, hide in the crowd, and not really rub shoulders with people. The cell helps us to put into practice the words of Peter to love each other deeply.