Post resurrection, our living, loving Lord sought conviction from Peter that his love was genuine and not contingent on circumstances. Hurt by Jesus' clarifying questions (which were not for Jesus' understanding, but a reality check for Peter), Peter affirmed his love. I heard Jesus say to my heart, "My beloved, do you really love Me?" Tears. "Yes Lord, I do."
Love for the Lord qualifies me to serve on behalf of the Lord. In spite of my past denials of God, if I love God in the present, I am qualified to serve people. Jesus knows if He has my affections my right actions will follow. My service without love is sterile and suspect, but my service with love is life giving and authentic. Better for me to be prompted by love without professional training, than to have an office wall adorned with framed theological credentials, but lack love’s motivation in service. If I first of all love Jesus, I am qualified to care for His people.
Jesus probed into the motivation of Peter’s heart. Having publicly denied the Lord three times, the Lord knew Peter needed to hear his own public confession of Christ three times. Our current public confession of love for God covers our past public denials of God. Peter had denied Jesus by his sinful silence, now he exalted Jesus by his loving acknowledgment. Christ knew Peter’s affection was the best indicator of his loyalty. Love for Jesus qualifies us to serve with Jesus.
“Love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul” (Deuteronomy 11:13).
If we are not prayerfully intentional in our public confession of Jesus, we can unwittingly distance ourselves from Jesus. Understandably, we don’t want to be labeled as judgmental and insensitive in our reactions to sensitive subjects like abortion and homosexuality. Thus, we pray for opportunities to love and serve those different from us. We first confess our own denial of Christ by our unloving attitudes and then we confess Christ by our loving attitudes. We pray with parents of children who choose alternative lifestyles. Love qualifies us to help souls that are hurting.
Moreover, love for Jesus helps us stay close to Jesus when conflict enters our lives. We deny the Lord when we keep silent: afraid and angry, but we acknowledge the Lord when we can process our fears and frustrations in a civil conversation. Our love for each other compels us to express our love in respectful discussions. Our best decisions come by taking time to love each other through our diverse views. Love is patient to listen to all sides before it decides the best next step. Love qualifies us to grow closer to each other by really knowing each other.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13).