Thursday, November 12, 2015
“After they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you LOVE me more than these?’ Peter answered him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I LIKE you.’” (John 21:15 IEB). (Emphasis mine, RH).
Jesus used the Greek word agape for love. Peter responded with the lesser word phileo. This difference is accurately translated in the International English Bible. Growing up, I had memorized John 3:16. I knew God loved me. However, like Peter on that occasion with Jesus, I could not tell my Heavenly Father, “I love you.” It wasn’t because I didn’t love Him. Deep down I could not understand how He could really love me!
My father abandoned us when I was 8 years old. I found him and visited with him briefly when I was 18 and again with my younger brother when I was 19. Our father had told my mother that Jerry was not his son. Probably his way of justifying his unfaithfulness while serving in the Navy during WWII. One look at Jerry and you knew who his father was! Neither of us had a close relationship with him. Perhaps my experience with my earthly father colored my picture of my Heavenly One?
My picture of God was two fold. Intellectually I knew from John3:16 that He loved me and sent Jesus to save us. Emotionally I pictured Him as a strict judge waiting to squash me for my sins. I could never be good enough. If I could not be perfect, how could He ever love me? I wasn’t worthy of His love!
Actually, I was right. I wasn’t worthy. My sins separated me from God (Isaiah 59:2). I could not be, nor would I ever be capable of perfection. There wasn’t anything I could do to purchase God’s love. God did not send his Word to become flesh because I deserved to be loved. Paul informs us, “But God reassures us of His love for us in this way: While we were sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8 IEB) and “We love, because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19 IEB). God loves me! God wants me! God appreciates me! I can be my Father’s friend (John 15:15)! God doesn’t appear to us in a cloud on a untouchable mountain with lightning and thunder. He appears to us through Jesus, who is His Word and Son. I could not heal myself, but Jesus did. I am not my savior, but Jesus is. I am not righteous, but Jesus is (2 Corinthians 5:21). In spite of my imperfections, Jesus makes me perfect before the Father! God did all that because He loved me so much and wanted to bring me into that fellowship with Him.
Because He first loved me, I am happy to tell Him, “Father, I love you”!