Love, Amore, Laska, Armastus, Kaerlighed….
In whatever language you speak it, it’s a message of the heart, the very foundation of our soul’s journey.
The Love Motivation
“I love…” is a phrase we use often for many reasons, for example, I love my husband, I love coffee, I love Jesus, I love shoes, I love sunsets, I love my children, etc. But what motivates us to use this term with such a variety of situations ranging from deeply heartfelt, to painfully superficial?
The term “I love you” seems to be lost in a culture that relates it on the same level as “I love Doritos” yet we do not have the understanding that there is a foundational difference between the meaning of Christ-like love and worldly love….
In the book of John, chapter 21, Jesus is just finishing up breakfast with His disciples, He leans in, looks to Simon Peter and asks “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” (I wonder if He’s referring to the brothers, the fellowship, or the waffles… hmmm)
Peter confidently replies to Jesus, “Yes Lord; You know that I love You.”
Jesus then instructs him; “Tend My lambs”
This scenario repeats two more times with Jesus asking Peter if he loves Him, and Peter’s response being the same. The third time, however, the Word says that “Peter was grieved” as he responded to Jesus’ question, yet Jesus still finishes the dialogue with, “Tend My lambs.”
Phileo vs. Agape Love
The Strong’s Concordance explains that the word “love” as Jesus used it in this verse is the Greek word “Agape” which means; committed, benevolence, to love as in a moral sense, chiefly of the heart. Contrarily the word “love” as Peter uses to respond to Jesus is the Greek word “Phileo” which means; fond of, having a personal attachment, a matter of sentiment or feeling, chiefly of the head.
You see Jesus was asking Peter “are you committed to me in your heart at all cost”, and Peter was replying, “I’m fond of you and have a personal attachment to you Lord based on my feelings, but am not committed to You.”, which is essentially why Peter, at last, was grieved about the situation, because he knew the difference. But here is the redeeming grace of our Lord, read His response to this situation;
‘Truly I say to you, when you were younger, you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God”. Then He said to him, ‘Follow Me!'” – John 21:18-19
What’s the message here? When you are a baby in the faith, you do what YOU want to do, you see God how YOU want to see Him, you live out your faith the way YOU see fit for your life, but as you grow up, God requires more of you. There is a shift that happens; you begin to die a death of “self” (expectations, comforts, doctrines etc.) by which you glorify God thus moving from being fond of Him (phileo) and having a personal sentiment towards Him, to being wholly committed to Him (agape) at ALL costs. He then takes your hands, dresses you and leads you where HE wants you to go. I find it interesting that Jesus says, “and lead you where you DO NOT WANT to go.” Jesus promises that the journey He will take you on will be one of sacrifice, discomfort, and stretching. He promises that where He will take you in your mature faith will not necessarily appeal to your flesh, but the rewards are immense!
Low call vs. High call
You have two choices; The Bible says there is a “High call” in Christ Jesus that we must press towards (Philippians 3:14 KJV), therefore indicating there is such thing as a low calling. There will be many in the faith who will love/phileo God (be fond of and attached to Him) and accept His gift of salvation for eternity. Then there are the few who will press towards the high calling in Christ which is to love/agape Him (being fully committed at all cost) thus making Him Lord of their literal lives here on earth. The high calling is one that has to be pressed towards, according to the apostle Paul, it requires sacrifice, endurance, discipline, consecration, and commitment, and it also pays the highest dividends (Luke 6:22-23).
So ask yourself; what is God calling you to do? Does it not fit into your schedule? Maybe it’s not your natural strength, or perhaps the financial aspect seems out of your league…. What is God putting on your heart right now that would require you to stretch beyond what you’ve known, give up your comfort and ideals and go beyond what you ever saw yourself doing?
Then ask yourself this; Do I want to press into my high calling and glorify God here on earth for the purpose in which He sent me forth, or do I want to sit in my low calling where it’s safe and keep my hands tied so that God is limited in and through my life?
The choice is yours!!!