Do you love me?

Friday, May 25, 2012

I love my two sons more than words can describe, and I wish everyday that they would play nicely with each other without fighting, but once in a while, I find one hurting the other and I have to intervene. It is not because I love one more than the other that I discipline the child who is hurting his brother. It is because I love them both so much that I don’t want them to hurt each other and my goal is that they learn to love each other.

When I look at the Ten Commandments given by God to His people Israel, I see them divided in two groups: the ones about loving God above all things, and the ones about loving one another. Paul says “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves one another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, You shall not covet, and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” Romans 13:8-10. Is it really that simple? All you have to do is to love your neighbor as yourself, and you will have followed half of God’s commandments?

Well, good luck trying to do that. And remember that it needs to be done out of your heart, they are not just actions. “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” 1 Cor 13:3.

I believe that God gave such commandments because He wanted the best for His people. Because when the Israelites followed them, they were not only pleasing God, but they were also being protected from hurting each other - from living selfish destructive lives. But as History shows, they, like us, failed in following them and even used the commandments to hurt each other.

So how in the world could someone be able to follow these commandments? How could someone be able to stop hurting other people and end the selfish destructive life? When someone asked Jesus which was the great commandment in the law, He said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets” Mat 22:36-40. Can you see the beauty in it? Jesus is saying that unless you follow the first commandment, good luck trying to follow anything else.

You and I can try to deny ourselves. We can try to not please our own beings every day, and that is going to take a tremendously amount of work. And usually if we are not worshipping ourselves we will start worshipping something else, our career, our wealth, our family, our status, or even our religion. But they are just idols, and as bad as worshiping ourselves. But when you place God in the very center of you life, as the only One you worship, then everything else falls into place. God is the only object of worship that is worthy of our worship because He is God! He is altogether holy, He is eternal, He is all-knowing, all powerful, fair and just. He created all the Universe and every single detail in all the subjects that you and I may have struggled to learn in school: Math, Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Biology, Languages, Art, and the list is really endless. He is above time, above mortality, above knowledge. He is worthy of our entire lives, and of all our glory and honor. And when we adore Him we are set free from adoring anything else that will eventually bring us destruction and hurt to others.

However, God also knows that in ourselves we have no power to place Him in the center of our lives, to love Him for whom He is, to adore Him. Therefore, He reached out to us first, He so loved the world, He offered what was most precious to His heart, His own Son, to free us from sin. To receive in Him the fair discipline for the hurting we have been doing. The just punishment to free us from our self-destructive sinful nature. And God`s love is so big that Paul describes “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Rom 8:38.

Before Jesus left to go back to Heaven, He asked Peter. “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” and again “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” and again “Do you love Me?”  Jesus wanted to make sure Peter understood that it was only if Peter loved Jesus above all things, even above his own brethren, that he could follow Jesus. That he could feed Jesus’ sheep, that he could be the amazing testimony that Peter became to crowds of people. If Jesus was not at the center at Peter’s heart, there would be no profit trying to do Jesus’ work.

Do you love me? Jesus is asking you. Do you love me above anyone and anything? Heaven is a place where the ones washed by Jesus’ blood will spend eternity adoring Him. Why would you want to go there, if you don’t care about Jesus? He asks: Do you love me? Then, follow me.