Take care of my sheep

“Jesus repeated the question, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord’, Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said” (John 21:16).

This question from Jesus is asked of Simon Peter three times. I don’t believe it is asked these three times simply because Peter didn’t hear the question or understand the words in the question. I believe Jesus asked the question these three times because he wanted Peter to understand the importance of the question and even more significantly, the answer to the question.

Those of us who call ourselves Christians would likely answer the question Jesus asked in the same way; “Yes, Lord, you know I love you!” We would almost think it a ridiculous question to ask because we are Christian and so by association must love Christ…right? But as you read this passage, Jesus is asking Peter to consider his answer beyond the words. Do you really love me? Then if you do, act like it.

How easy it is for us to say we love Jesus but how difficult it is for us to act out that love. How difficult it is to show our love for others…to sacrifice for others…to give to others…to minister to others…to “take care of the sheep” of Jesus. You see, saying the words doesn’t often cost us very much. We say them and can walk away. Very few people will hold us to our word these days. We can say so many things without a second thought simply because we have become used to saying the right thing or because we have learned the right/correct words to say that make us look good in the eyes of others. We learn the words in church, most often, but we are doing ourselves, our church community and our Christ a disservice when we don’t act on those words.

Do you really love Jesus? Then how does your life show it?

Are you kind? Patient? Generous with your time, gifts, finances? Do you participate in church activities or does everything else come first? Do you make sure that widows and orphans are cared for? Do you minister to the least, the last and the lost? Do your excuses come too easily to your lips when someone asks for your help? Have people stopped asking you to help? How does your life actually show you are a Christian beyond your words saying it?

On January 1, I will head to Bangladesh for another visit to a ministry that I’m partnered with through my work. In Bangladesh, there are less than 2% of the population that are Christian. When you convert to Christianity you are considered a Muslim believer…not a Christian. It’s simply semantics but is a complete change of life. Choosing Jesus as your savior means that you walk away from your family, your heritage, often every one of your friends, your job, your community and everything you have known your entire life. You must begin from scratch with the one thing that means more than anything else in life, Christ. Your life is in jeopardy as your family may feel they have to try and kill you for this conversion, as well. But, for the Muslim believer, it is worth it. Christ is worth every sacrifice because they love him that much, and they dedicate the rest of their lives serving Jesus with all that they are, even if that means they will never speak to their family again. They are faithful in prayer and service, kindness and compassion, gratitude and love. Yes, these Christians can say that they love Jesus.

As this new year begins, how will your life reflect the love you say you have for Jesus? How will you show that you care for his sheep? What changes will you make so that words will not be the only proof of that love?