Broken-down Poetry: February 2009


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Do you love me?

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."

I love when Don Miller, in his book Searching for God Knows What, talks about this passage. He reads back farther, though, looking at the entire chapter of John 21:

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered.

He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught."

Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Did you know that the writer mentions the word "fish" 8 times in 14 verses? That sounds like a pretty strange observation to make ... especially since the chapter is about fishing. But maybe it had a purpose. And why did the writer mention the exact number of fish the men caught (153)? John may have just been recording facts but, as all journalists know, you don't just throw in random data without having a purpose.

So this whole fish business led author Don Miller to conclude that maybe in verse 15 (as quoted at the top of the blog) Jesus is referring to the fish: Simon ... do you truly love me more than these [fish]?

And that always gets me thinking.

Lauren, daughter of Natalie, do you love me more than your iPod?

... more than your hot fudge sundae poptarts?

... more than comfort? suburbia? your dreams?

... more than writing?

And I answer the way that Simon Peter does: Yes, Lord, you know that I love you as a brother [philo].

We know that there are different translations for love in the Greek: philo (brotherly), eros (romantic) and agape (unconditional). And when Peter answers that first time, he tells Jesus what I tell him: I love you like muh bro'!

But unconditionally?

The question I've been asking myself most recently is -- and I'm being transparent with you -- would I be okay with being single the rest of my life? When I see all the engaged couples at IWU, it's really, really hard to ask myself that question. Because I know the answer. And I'm ashamed of it.

Would I love God if I had to stop writing? If I never worked for RELEVANT? If he called me to get out of my comfort zone?

In an ideal world, yes, I'd love God agape. I'd die to myself every day; I'd forget about my own dreams and look to Him; I'd be happy being single; I'd always serve the people around me. But that's in an ideal world, and I don't live in an ideal world.

It's really hard to forget about your own wants sometimes.

It's Lenten season. Welcome.

It's a time for sacrifice and remembering what Christ did for us because of our self-love.

Let's take time to wrestle with this, to see what God wants us to give up (like sin) or pick up (like love).

with love, ezekiel.