>Writer’s Note: This week we are taking a break from our series from Colossians to talk about my message at Brookwood Church on Sunday, July 4 called “Opposites Attack.” If you would like to view the message, go here: http://www.brookwoodchurch.org/. It should be posted by 3 pm on July 4.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11

God enjoys variety. I stopped at the ATM this morning. As I was making my transaction, I noticed a brightly colored bug on the ATM machine. It had bands of orange and yellow on its back. But, they weren’t stripes. It was almost like microscopic mosaic tiles laid out in an intricate pattern.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of entomology. My role is usually to kill the bug or get rid of it (read: kill it outside). I don’t spend a lot of time studying them. Why did God spend so much time creating a beautiful design on a bug that I would ultimately squish?

So , think about all of the people that bug you (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Some people are just strange. They act strange. They look strange. They’re just strange. Normal people are the people who look like me. We act normal. We look normal. But, we are strange to the people who are strange to us.

Differences cause us to grow. I hate to admit that because there are some days that I really don’t want to grow. But, this is true whether I like it or not. If you don’t like it, then this is YOUR opportunity to grow.

Growth doesn’t sprout from misery or hopelessness or depression. Growth can happen anywhere but it requires grace, hope and affection.

Peter writes, “Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” When you first start a romantic relationship with someone, you look at all of the similarities. “We like the same movies. We use the same toothpaste. We enjoy the same Bible translation…” Once we’re married, suddenly all of the differences are front and center. “He won’t put the seat down. She puts the toilet paper under not over. He squeezes the toothpaste. She wants to talk. He wants to veg.”

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in the Message, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything” (1 Peter 4:8). Now, you might be saying, “I don’t have that much love.” Here’s the great thing. God does.

It takes more than what we have to love other people. Our love is fickle. Our love is conditional, even though we want to pledge “endless love.” God loves us deeply, so we can love deeply from His well.

The biggest piece in our relationships is grace. Peter uses an unusual phrase here: “administering God’s grace in its various forms.” The idea of administering is really the idea of stewardship. God expects us to be good stewards of His grace. How do we do that? Peter goes on to explain how we should use our spiritual gifts. It’s not a coincidence that spiritual gifts, charismata, literally means “grace gifts.” We use our spiritual gifts to extend God’s grace to others.

Who is really bugging you these days? Who needs love? Who needs grace? How can you love deeply from God’s well? How can you extend God’s grace?

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