Friday, December 1 2017
I’m sure you all know that not all evangelical churches are the same. They differ in size, appearance, doctrine, mission, even in personality. Needless to say, many Christians are often left wondering regarding what God expects of His churches and their leaders. I am no expert on this matter and probably my way of thinking is much more simplistic than other pastors, but of this I am sure: I know what the Lord expects from me in regards to our Church and it’s quite simple. It is exactly the same set of instructions that was given to the original leader of His church. The answer is found in the 21st Chapter of John, in particular the second part of the chapter where He asked Peter three times if he loved Him.
Here are some things to keep in mind when we dwell on this now famous conversation: Jesus waited until after they had enjoyed their full fish meal before He confronted Peter, who probably had anticipated that the Lord would eventually bring up the night he publicly denied knowing Him. Jesus treated him with mercy, tenderness, and compassion. That is our first clue. The church leader must treat sinners and all who fail the Lord, just as they themselves, like Peter, have been treated. Then, there was Jesus’ questions. The first was “Do you love me more than these?” (Vs 15) Peter may have understood this question in one of several ways. Did He mean “Do you love fishing more than me”, “Do you love your fellow fishermen more than you love me? or “Do you love me more than they love me?” I tend to believe that Peter understood it as the latter. After all, was he not the one that had said “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Mt. 26:33) implying that he loved Him more than the others?
To understand Jesus’ questions to Peter, it is helpful to know what He did not ask. He did not ask “Do you admire, fear, or respect me?” Neither did He ask: How much have you wept, prayed, or fasted since the day you failed me?" This is important because many of God’s children fear, admire, or respect Jesus more than they love Him. Also, many have the idea that a lot of prayer, study, fasting, and weeping is the best indication that they love Him. To me, those who love the Lord the most are those who believe that they have been forgiven the most. Regarding the woman who wiped His feet with her tears, Jesus declared:
“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47) Even the Apostle Paul referred to himself as the “chief of sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
The Lord’s instructions to Peter on that day were: (1) “Feed my lambs” (new believers) (2) “Take care of my sheep.” (the church) and (3) “Feed my sheep.” (with the Word of God) The implied clincher, however, was this: “If you, Peter, don’t love me with all your heart, you will not fulfill these three simple commandments.” I suspect, Peter also remembered these words: “If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15) Whether you are a leader at home, work, play, or in church, it is no different for you. In the end, a church’s plans, missions, ideas, goals, ministries, etc. will have no value whatsoever if the leader does not love the Lord’s flock as he should. It all begins with loving Jesus with all our heart.
God’s word for today (Deuteronomy 6:5) “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”