DiscipleChurch family and friends:
Like the resurrection, we ought to be talking about love every Sunday in DiscipleChurch, every Sunday in every church of Jesus. Not duty, not generosity, not empathy, not sacrifice. Love.
“Love” is perhaps the most poetic word in our language. It has inexhaustibly multiple meanings and inspires teeming images and welling emotions. Think of your “loves”…….all of them. Think of how many ways you use “love” and how many objects of your “love” there are. Then look up “love” in the dictionary. If you are like me, you will find how completely impoverished and totally inadequate are every one of those definitions, singly and in combination. If you are like me, you will conclude that no definition, or definitions, can adequately capture all that love is and does for and to you and me. If you are like me, you will conclude that trying to encircle and exhaust and delimit and define with words the meaning and value and power of “love” would deprive love of so much of its power and value. We human beings will neither die for, nor live for, that which we do not love. Tell us what a man or woman truly loves, and I suspect that we can come close to telling what their daily life is like, what their hopes and fears are, what they spend their time and resources on. Yet we can’t even adequately define or even describe “love.”
This, my sisters and brothers, is what poetry is about. All valuable theology, all worthwhile statements about God, must be poetic. The greatest scripture is always poetic. Consider the amazing poetry of the prophets, and of the Psalms, and of the beginning of Luke’s gospel. Consider the poetry of your prayers to God when you are speaking and listening to her (!) from and with your heart and soul. Consider that only poetic scripture can begin to express what is truly valuable and important to our souls and to our hearts.
Of all the gospel writers, John, and John’s Jesus, are most focused on love. So it is hardly surprising that John states in his first letter that “God is love” (1 John 4.8). Like “love,” no word or words can hope to capture all that God is and does for and to us. To try to capture and exhaust the meaning and power and nature of God in words would be to practice idolatry. Love, too.
This Sunday is the seventh Sunday of the season of Easter, the last Sunday before Pentecost. This Sunday’s scripture is John 21.1-17, the last appearance story of Jesus in the gospels.
And, of course, when Jesus gives Peter, and us, His charge, His mission, His call to us to take care of His sheep, what is the source and foundation and motive of His call? Faith? Hope? Wisdom? Happiness? Satisfaction? Meaning? Reward? Nope. None of those, as poetic as those words are as well.
“This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 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.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep.”
What is this love? Do you want this love? Do you want something, anything, worthy of living and dying for? What could that be, other than love?
Do you want to love Jesus and thus God “more than these”? What “these”?
Are you capable of this love?
What would this love do for and to you?
How do we obtain it?
Hope to see you this Sunday.