John 21:15, 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.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
God is good! When we fall He picks us up. When we fail He restores. When we die, He gives life. Without humiliation, criticism, or further resolution, He allows us back into His presence. He simply requires that we reaffirm our love for Him. Much the way Hosea took back his unfaithful wife. (Hosea 3, in fact the entire book)
Peter would fail Jesus when he fled from the garden of Gethsemane. He would later deny even knowing Jesus. It is in our most critical moments when our hearts are revealed. How have you served under pressure? The question is not about Peter’s judgement, but about the lesson we glean from this circumstance.
As we begin this new year, may we be constantly reminded of our inconsistencies. Not because I have some morbid sense of depression, or a negative view of humanity, but because in the depths of our disobedience, we find a Savior who loves us more than His own life. Maybe we denied Him by the way we lived. Maybe we have disobeyed His word more times than we can imagine. Maybe our faith has been more absent than our selfishness. Regardless of the reason for failure, we serve a loving Savior who waits to forgive the penitent. He is not into humiliation, criticisms, or unnecessary statements of commitment. Simply mean what you say and that will be enough. Jesus asked Peter what He did for a reason. Peter got the message eventually. When Jesus asks you, what is your answer? Is it a shallow platitude void of meaning and passion? Or is it the resounding and sincere answer of a faithful follower bearing his own cross? Jesus doesn’t need or want our tired expressions. Re-commitments or further promises which find their way to a less than heartfelt love are not what is wanted. A worthless resolution from a year ago which had no impact, is not going to be more likely to have an impact this year. The question we face is a question of the heart. Do you love Jesus? The problems we have are not chronological (time oriented), monetary, or matters of resource. The answer is very simple – Love, or the lack there of, for Jesus is our strength or our fault.
The simple proof of our commitment is in our lives. Have you really committed to Jesus? Have you really laid your life down and carried the cross we are called to bear? As you begin the New Year I will be praying for you. I need yours as well. Together we can encourage each other to greater heights than we might have reached otherwise. If you are a Christian then keep working to a greater end. If you have not made that commitment yet – live as one who knows Jesus is real and believe in His ability to save us (Believe – Mark 16:15-16; Romans1:16), leave sin behind and turn to God (repent – Luke 24:46-47), acknowledge Jesus as your Lord and Savior verbally and frequently (Confess – Romans 10:9-10; Matthew 10:32-33), and be immersed for the forgiveness of your sins. (Baptized – Mark 16:16) Without question one must remain faithful as they pursue their faith in life. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
If you seek to influence the world around you, remember that your influence will be limited to the assessment of the world around. Fair or not, this is what life is. God wants us to be Holy, not just a Christian disguised in worldly garment – too cool to be a real Christian for fear we might be offensive. Too often Christians ponder how to address the world in a secular way and the truth is that God expects the world to be addressed in a Holy way. The purity of Christian holiness is not reproducible with any worldly formula. It can only be demonstrated with a life of commitment and faithfulness. Are you living a life of consecration? Is your life what it needs to be to glorify God? I pray that this new year will bring greater opportunity for your life to yield to the reward of living a holy life in the sight of God and man.