To love God
We need never doubt God’s love for us. God doesn’t only say that He loves us, his deeds also show it. The Gospel is about God’s love for all people: For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life (John 3:16).
God also asks that we love Him. Jesus says: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ ’ (Matt. 22:37 – 39). We love God and worship Him as the holy God. Jesus said: “The scripture says, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him!’ ” (Luke 4:8). We glorify Him with songs of praise and thank Him for whom He is: Speak to one another with the words of psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing hymns and psalms to the Lord with praise in your hearts. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, always give thanks for everything to God the Father (Eph. 5:19 – 20). As is the case with God’s love for us, our love for Him must also translate into deeds. “If you love me, you will obey my commandments (John 14: 15). To love your neighbour as you love yourself is evidence of your love for God. It requires deeds from us. The love for God must manifest itself through the way we treat our neighbour.
One day Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these others do?” “Yes, Lord,” he answered, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Take care of my lambs.” (John 21:15). Jesus isn’t completely satisfied with Peter’s reply of “you know that I love you”. In effect Jesus says to Peter: “If you say that you love Me, show it … take care of my lambs.” Jesus had previously referred to Himself as the shepherd of the sheep, his church. Here the lambs refer to the most vulnerable of the sheep; it presents an image of believers whose faith is still weak. Thus those who require special attention, and who must be taught and comforted with great sympathy and empathy. Peter is commanded: if you love Me, feed these people, be good to them and teach them about their Saviour, Jesus Christ. To God it is important that the newly converted see and experience Jesus’ love in his children and feel at ease with them.
Jesus asked Peter a second time: “do you love me?” … “Yes, Lord,” he answered, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep.” (John 21:16). Again the command to Peter for him to show his love: All Jesus’ children must be safe-guarded against loss of faith. A third time Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” and so he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!” Jesus said to him, “Take care of my sheep (John 21:17). Take care of the church of Jesus, feed them with the Word.
Earlier Peter had said three times that he doesn’t know Jesus (Matt. 26:69 – 74). Here Jesus gives him the chance to declare his love for Jesus three times. This love for Jesus resulted in wonderful deeds. Where Peter had been afraid at first to admit that he knows Jesus, he later stands before the enemies of Jesus: the members of the Sanhedrin, the family heads and the scribes, also the high priest Annas, and dares to say: “Salvation is to be found through him (Jesus) alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.” (Acts 4: 12). Peter was changed by the love of Christ. That he couldn’t do by himself. “This is impossible for human beings but not for God; everything is possible for God.” (Mark 10:27).
Paul says to love God we must: know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19).
Our heavenly Father, let us know your love, your love that surpasses knowledge so that we may filled entirely with your Spirit. Amen