How much are we willing to give? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
We all know the story of how after Jesus’s resurrection, He appeared to Peter and the other apostles while they were fishing. By a fire, Jesus asked Peter three times “Do you love me?” The first time He asks, “Do you love me more than these?”
One of my favorite quotes of philosopher Peter Kreeft is when he says that sometimes he thinks he’s a bigger Red Sox fan than he is a Jesus fan. I can relate to that, though not about the Red Sox. I often think I can get more joy out of many other things in my life besides Jesus and I think “Do I love Jesus more than these?”
Now if you think your love is deficient, the obvious thing to do is to increase your love of Jesus more. By the way, for all Christians, our love of Jesus is deficient. None of us love Him as we ought to.
Sometimes, lack of love shows up in addiction. I have heard several times in Celebrate Recovery when someone talks about being sober from alcohol for years. Then one day they’re at a restaurant and decide that they can handle one drink. Boom. The whole thing starts all over again. It’s really a form of pride. We often like to get so close to temptation and think we can handle it and boom, we can’t.
Sure. You can be friends with that girl at the office. That’s no big deal. Yeah. You’re both going on break. Why not go together? I mean, you both know you’re both married. No big deal. Right? Then after a few conversations you’re making arrangements to meet at a hotel one day. It doesn’t just happen instantly.
Sometimes, you might have to remove some things from your life if they’re hindering your walk with Jesus. Obviously, this can’t always be the case. If you find you love your family more than you love Jesus, you’re not called to divorce your family.
There is a danger though that this could become legalism. Obviously, Jesus gave us things to enjoy and there’s no sin in enjoying them. When the Final Fantasy VII Remake came out, a friend got me a copy of it and for a number of days I spent more hours than usual going through that. After awhile, it toned down and I haven’t really sat down to play in months. That happens. For some guys, when a major sporting event is going on, they might sit down and watch that a lot. It happens.
I also think though about how many of us are willing to give up things definitely sinful. Yesterday, I reviewed Rachel Gilson’s book about how she gave up homosexual practice for Jesus, and she isn’t the only one. Some people will choose to be celibate for the kingdom, which is a big sacrifice.
In her book, Real Sex: The Naked Truth About Chastity, Lauren Winner writes about taking a class of church students to see several nuns, I think at the convent, but I don’t remember exactly. One student during a question time bravely asks “What’s the deal about giving up sex?” The nun was glad to be asked and said that she knew it was a real sacrifice she was giving up, but it’s done for Jesus.
While sex properly understood is not sinful, many people go without it all their lives for the sake of the kingdom, including Jesus Himself. Many people will have to give up pornography for the sake of the kingdom. It all comes down to if the kingdom is worth it.
If it isn’t, then we have a deficient view of the kingdom of Christ, and we all do. There’s a saying about theology that whatever your idea of God is, it’s inadequate. Thomas Aquinas was said to have had the beatific vision before he died and said that whatever he wrote, it was like straw to him. His masterpiece, the Summa Theologica, was unfinished when he died.
This is something that convicts me often. I wonder why it is I don’t read as much as I should many times or pray as much as I should. Sometimes, I think it’s a sad familiarity with the story of Jesus. That’s again a deficiency in me. However, I suspect I’m not alone in this. Odds are even if you see yourself as a devout Christian, you are probably similar. How many of us can sit down at Facebook wanting to look for just ten minutes and then spend an hour doing it?
So I come back to the question. Do you love me more than these? What am I to do? Just strive to love Jesus more. What more can I do?
What more can you and I do?