If you are a Christian, probe the deep recesses of your heart and determine what’s motivating you to follow Jesus. What’s driving you? Is it fear? Fear has undoubtedly turned many people from their sinful ways. The thought of “the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10) has a way of humbling the proudest of people (cf. Rom. 5:9; 2 Cor. 5:10-11). Nevertheless, while we should maintain a healthy reverence for God throughout our lives (1 Pet. 1:17), I don’t believe that fear should remain our primary motivation. I contend there is something that is more powerful than fear.
After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples more than one time. On the third occasion, we find Jesus having breakfast with them (John 21:12-14). After they had stuffed themselves, Jesus took the opportunity to ask Peter a series of important questions. Interestingly enough, the questions were essentially all the same: ”Simon, son ofJohn, do you love me?” (John 21:15-17). Following each question, Peter responded in the affirmative: “You know that I love you.” Jesus followed his responses with a variation of commands, all of which expressed the same thing: ”Tend my sheep.” Among other things, this passage highlights what should drive us as Christians. Besides facilitating reconciliation with Peter, Jesus was seeking to inspect Peter’s inmost purpose in following Him. In Jesus’ mind, only a complete love for Him would be sufficient to carry Peter and his fellow disciples through the careers that awaited them in the near future.
As it was with Peter, so it is with us. Love is the highest motivation, and it is the only one that holds the power and the lasting influence to carry us through to the end. Indeed, the sentiment expressed in John 21:15-17 is basically an echo of the two great commandments. We are to love God with everything inside of us, and we are to love everyone around us (Matt. 22:37-39). Paul put it this way: ”For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor. 5:14-15). Although a love for God is commanded, we find in these verses that Jesus has provided us a potent reason to love Him, a reason that will continue to stand the test of time.
Pulaski Street church of Christ