When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
It’s pretty easy to say we love Jesus, isn’t it? We say it in prayer, and we sing it in song. We show our love through worship–by showing up for the principle event in the life of the church, hopefully with a degree of regularity. We show our love by giving back a portion of what God has so generously give us. We may wear a cross as a tangible sign of our faithfulness and devotion. Some Christians even have the Ichthys symbol plastered to the bumpers of their cars, and it wasn’t too many years ago that you could see WWJD bracelets hanging on arms virtually everywhere. Oh, yes. It’s pretty easy to say and show that we love Jesus in such concrete, tangible ways.
Peter got that far. He could say that he loved Jesus–three times in fact. He could declare his love as many times as he had betrayed the one he loved. Yet Jesus wants more than words or shows of devotion. Jesus wants not only our hearts and our words, but also our hands, our feet, our eyes, our very being. For our Lord, “love” is a verb, and an active one at that. Loving Jesus does not involve some convoluted hedge of a passive construction; such love requires a clear and purposeful movement in one’s life. Loving Jesus is an all-encompassing way of being, much more than a Sunday roll call or a Christian bumper sticker. In short, it’s the hardest four letters to put into action that one could ever string together.
Jesus knows how hard it is for us to follow him. He knows all about our willfulness, our hurts, our hatred, and our pain. He understands because he walked a lot of miles on this earth in sandals just like ours. The good news is that he loves us still; he loves us in spite of our broken human ways and wiles. Just like Jesus loved Peter and guided him toward an understanding of what discipleship is all about, and just like he met the disciples over a simple meal, Jesus meets us in word and meal, in water and Spirit–God with us, Emmanuel.
I’m certainly not making light of regular worship attendance, a dedicated prayer life, strong stewardship of time, talents, and possessions, or even bumper stickers and bracelets. These things are tangibles marks of the presence of Christians and signs of how we do our human best to love and praise our Creator. Yet there is more, so much more, when we make loving Christ both an active verb and an active part of our daily living. Remember Jesus’ words to Peter: “Feed my lambs….Tend my sheep….Feed my sheep.” Wherever there is hunger, we are called to feed. Wherever there is destruction, we are called to rebuild. Wherever there is hurt, we are called to bind wounds.
Wherever there is oppression or injustice, we are to speak and act. Whenever someone needs the love of Christ, we are to point the way. Yes, loving Christ involves an active verb–and active hands, feet, eyes, mouths, and hearts. So tell me, do you love Jesus? I figured we’d both say yes. Now let’s show the world that love in action. Amen.
Copyright (c) 2010, The Rev. Sharron Riessinger Lucas, all rights reserved. Used by permission.