Christianity 201

January 31, 2023

He Asks Peter, He Asks Us, “Do You Love Me?”

Through a number of circumstances, I just finished binge-reading 30 short devotionals on the Book of Proverbs for February, 2023 which are appearing in Today, a publication of ReFrame Ministries, a division of the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). All were written by an author which we’re introducing here for the first time, Jenna Fabiano, pastor of Willoughby Church, in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. (See the link at the end of the article for how you can read them, too.)

I was delighted to see that she had also posted some other devotions online at her church’s website, including this one which I selected to share here. Click the title below to read this where it first appeared.

Do You Love Me?

“Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’”
John 21:16

Back in January of 2020, before the chaos of Covid-19 had sprung into existence, I was able to lead a few devotionals at our church leadership retreat on this very question that Jesus poses to Simon Peter—a question that he poses not just once, but three times.

“Simon son of John, do you love me?”   It’s the question that we must keep coming back to, in whatever season.  Because as a fellow pastor recently shared, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Pause for a moment and imagine Jesus calling you by name and asking you this same question.  What is your instinctive reaction?  Are you confident in what you would want to say?    If not, what’s holding you back?

If yes, what would it feel like for Jesus to ask you the question three times?  What kinds of doubts would run through your mind?  Would you be upset?  Angry?  Uncertain?

Peter was hurt—legitimately hurt—because Jesus questioned him three times.  And it can be discouraging to feel questioned.  To feel as if we still haven’t made it.  As if we’re not enough or we’re inferior.  To eat some humble pie and know that we still need growth and development.

And yet Jesus never asked Peter: “Do you have the skills?  Have you achieved enough?  Who do people say that you are?  Do they say you’re good enough?  Are you sure you’re right for this job?  For these responsibilities?”

He never asked any of that.  The only question He asked, the only one that mattered for the task that lay before Peter, was this: “Do you love me?”

That’s it.

Henri Nouwen wrote, “If there is any focus that the Christian of the future will need, it is the discipline of dwelling in the presence of the One who keeps asking us, ‘Do you love me?  Do you love me?  Do you love me?’”  

The tragedy, he explains, is that we are constantly being pulled in different directions, by different issues, by more ‘important’ things, and we end up becoming strangers to our own hearts and to God’s heart in the process.

But when we are safely anchored in the desire to love and be loved by the God who is love, then all of our other desires for favor, wealth, attention, relevance, etc. cease to be what drives us.

When our identity is deeply rooted in the love of God, and our heart’s greatest desire is to respond to that love by loving Him back, then we are at home, rooted and safe.  We can move around from place to place, go in and out of different seasons, endure both affliction and abundance, suffering and joy, and yet be at home.

Why?  Because we’ve already found a place to dwell.  We already know that we belong to God, says Nouwen, even though everything around us keeps suggesting the opposite.

‘Do you love me?’ is the key question that Jesus asks his disciples to ponder.  It’s the key question that provides the heart-beat for everything we do.  It’s the key question that defines how we follow Him at all.

So.  Do we love Him?


Living God,
You who love us more than we can know,
who loved us before we even knew that such love existed,
before we could ever conceive of such love,
I ask that you would allow Your love to sink deeply into my spirit,
that I might be filled with the Presence of a love
that is deeper than the ocean
and higher than the heavens.
May I love you in all things and before all things. 
In Christ,

To binge-read the series on Proverbs which I enjoyed, click this link. Or, if you’re a normal person (!) and would rather begin reading them one at a time, and you’re reading this on January 30th or 31st, click this link to sign up for daily emails.

June 2, 2013

The Intention Behind The Action

Today we pay a return visit to the blog The Rest That Works and writer Scott Daniels. You’re always encouraged to click through to read at source. This piece appeared under the title The Bottom Line.

The more I pray and try to follow God’s guidance the more it becomes apparent how simple the bottom line really is–love. It’s also apparent what usually gets in the way–a critical spirit, toward myself and others. The issue isn’t whether or not there is something that can be criticized. That is often the case. At issue is our approach. Is it of love or not? 

Probably the clearest story from the Bible that highlights this is when the woman (or different women) anointed Jesus with expensive oil. 

In John, Mary anoints Jesus and Judas objects because of the expense (John 12:1-8).

In Matthew and Mark, Jesus is at the house is of Simon the Leper when a woman comes in with very expensive ointment, and pours it over his head. The disciples in general complain of the waste because it could have been sold for the poor, but Jesus says it’s in preparation for his burial, and that you will always have the poor with you but not me, and adds that“wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mt. 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9). It’s one of the few times we hear that he is really impressed with what someone has done, and it has everything to do with intent.

In Luke 7 we have a different story with interesting similarities: We’re at the house of Simon the Pharisee. 

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table. 37 And a woman in the city, who was a sinner, having learned that he was eating in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster jar of ointment. 38 She stood behind him at his feet, weeping, and began to bathe his feet with her tears and to dry them with her hair. Then she continued kissing his feet and anointing them with the ointment.39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw it, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner.” 40 Jesus spoke up and said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he replied, “speak.” 41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.” 48 Then he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

In all cases, which may or may not have been different women and episodes, Jesus emphasizes the way the women have shown great love. To Jesus, the love and intent behind our actions are just about everythingIn at least one of these cases, expressing the love is worth a year’s wages blown in a single impractical gesture.

Jesus doesn’t say that the poor don’t matter. He also doesn’t ignore sin. But he clearly says that love moving or not moving through us matters most. He’s saying the spirit is the key.

The bottom line is to rest regarding a critical spirit and work with love. The bottom line is Divine Love, not as a theory but as a movement within us that deals with sin by transforming people and situations through love (us included).

More power to you in focusing on the bottom line.