I once heard a preacher man tell of Jesus’ great love for Peter.
Peter, the man who stood within earshot and swore upside-down and sideways that he had never met the man he once called Lord.
Peter, back to fishing soon after they murdered his heart’s disowned owner, turning back to the job he knew because the job he wanted had broken his heart.
Peter, who awkwardly swam to shore, lungs burning, muscles aching, mind afire after a long night of staring into the fathomless depths of Galilee waiting for a bite.
And when he got to shore, panting, dripping, heart knotted like a tossed-aside fishing net, he saw that the man he had cursed had breakfast ready. Fish and bread. The same meal the disciples twice passed out to impossible thousands of lost people, now offered to seven fishermen who forgot they were fishers of men, not fish.
Jesus brought no lectures to the table. No apologetics, no arguments, no disapproving glares.
[tweetthis]Jesus brings no lectures to the table. No apologetics, no arguments, no disapproving glares.[/tweetthis]
He simply offered breakfast alongside his bleeding heart, both proffered with nail-scarred hands.
“Peter, do you love me?”
Love. Because before we can give someone our life and follow them to the death, we must love them. And how does one fall in love with an invisible God? One must see his love through his disciples.
Do we emulate his great love in our lives? Or do we live small lives, pretending to be filled with love but really just filled with self-interest?
What would it look like to be filled with love through the power of the Spirit?
We would cling to the good in every human, cling to the good we see in the world.
We would be devoted to one another, honouring others above ourselves.
We would be joyful, hopeful, patient even when under great stress, faithful prayer warriors.
We would share with those in need, welcoming others into our homes.
Those who hurt us would find themselves being radically blessed by us.
We would celebrate with those who have good news without jealousy hiding in our hearts.
We would be the first person they call when they are in mourning because our empathy is Spirit-filled.
Peace would follow in our wake.
We would unashamedly befriend any and all people, without regard to social status, looks, or smell.
We would think of ourselves less and of others more.
When wronged, we would never retaliate in kind.
And to those that dislike us, that hurt us, that aggravate us, to these we would bring a slice of banana bread and a glass of sweet tea.
(Modified from Romans 12:8-21)
This is what love looks like when it has skin on.
Maybe if we truly lived like that, empowered by the very Spirit of Christ, maybe then we would start to smell like Christ, the one that loved.
Because when all is said and done, this is what Jesus’s time on earth was for: to put skin on the love of God and model to everyone how desperately we are loved. And as a Christian, as a little Christ, my presence ought to show the same: how desperately the world is loved.
This is what it means to feed Jesus’s sheep: to love His flock.
Jesus’ question to you and me is the same as to the shame-filled Peter, the same question that both frustrated and empowered him.
“Do you love me?”
And if the answer is yes, the follow-up is simple.
“Then take care of my sheep.”
Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.
– CS Lewis, Mere Christianity
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