Do You Love Me More Than These?

Do You Love Me More Than These?

Fishing is a good, wholesome activity, and many of the apostles were fishermen, but any activity, regardless of how wholesome, becomes bad when we allow it to take the place of God.

Fishing is a good, wholesome activity, and many of the apostles were fishermen, but any activity, regardless of how wholesome, becomes bad when we allow it to take the place of God.

Since my sisters and I were born in the 80s, or at least my younger sister and I were born in the 80s, my older sister was born in the 70s, you could say that we grew up in the 90s, which was the era of big summer movies. Two of the biggest movies of the 90s, Jurassic Park which came out in 1993, and Independence Day which came out in 1996 both starred Jeff Goldbloom, and for whatever reason, my younger sister had a massive crush in him, though she denied it at the time. Even to this day, I sometimes still tease my sister and send her photos of the shirtless Goldbloom from Jurassic Park, though she now admits she had at one time had a crush on Jeff Goldbloom she no longer has a crush on him and can’t remember quite why she was so smitten by him at the time. My sister has now moved on to Daniel Craig, though she does not try to hide the fact that she likes him and does not seam to mind her husband and children giving her a hard time about it.

When we were kids, I was absolutely convinced that my sister had a crush on Jeff Goldbloom, despite the fact that she adamantly denied it, and the reason I knew she had a crush on him was because she would not stop talking about him. The fact that my sister only spoke poorly about Goldbloom did not matter, it was the frequency that she talked to him that convinced me. There are actors or actresses that I don’t like personally or professionally and I don’t talk about them, I just don’t watch their movies or overlook their poor performance if the rest of the film stands up without him or her. I may occasionally, in passing, mention what I think of the actor or actress, but it is never a regular topic of conversation. My sister, on the other hand, spoke almost non stop about Jeff Goldbloom and how she hated the way he looked, the way he talked, and on and on. It wasn’t just me who noticed my sister’s obvious obsession with all things Jeff Goldbloom either, my older sister and my mother also could not avoid noticing because, as I said, it was blatantly obvious. I told my sister that she looked at Jeff Goldbloom the way in which a hungry dog looks at a piece of meat or the way a toddler looks at a lolly pop and there was no way she could convince me or anyone else that she was not twitterated with him, to use a Disney reference.

The reason I brought up my sister’s crush on Jeff Goldbloom was not just to give my sister a hard time, though I would not be honest if I said that it was not at least part of my motivation, the real reason I brought up my sister’s crush was to illustrate a point, and that point being that we spend the largest amount of our time on things we love, and it is fairly easy to determine how much a person loves something by how much or how little time they devote to it.

Just as it is easy to determine that someone likes or loves something based on how frequently they talk about it and how much time they spend on it, it is also somewhat easy to determine what doesn’t really matter to a person based on how little effort or time they put into it.

There are a lot of people, mostly men, who say they are working non stop because they love their family and want to provide the best of everything for them, but based on the amount of time they actually spend with their family I think it is far more likely that they are working so hard because they are addicted to success and status and it is more important to them than their family is.

Whenever the subject of books comes up I like to say that my favorite book is A Prayer for Owen Meany, both because I actually like the book and because it is a fairly intellectual book written by a famous and well respected author, John Irving, but when I stop and think about which book I have re read the most in the last few years A Prayer for Owen Meany is not even in the running. Basically, I like the idea of Owen Meany being by favorite book, or rather, I like the idea of other people thinking that it is my favorite book. Other books I often list in my top five are Nineteen Eighty Four, Animal Farm, A Man’s Search for Meaning and Frankenstein, and while I like all of those books and and have read them multiple times, they are not the books I actually re read the most often.

The book I have re read the most times in the last few years is not a highly intellectual and well known work that is taught around the world in literature classes but rather a book that is classified as young adult fiction. The book I have read the most often is somewhat of a romance, Where She Went by Gayle Foreman.

It is a common practice for Christians to say that they love Jesus more than anything, though to be honest, most Christians could not prove that by their actions, and the ones who can are referred to by society, and sometimes even other Christians, as “Jesus freaks” and most people consciously avoid them.

When I was a small child my father was always trying to get me to say that I loved him more than I loved my mother, even though he knew that if he got me to say it that it would not be true, but I never said that I loved him more and always tried to find a diplomatic answer that would get him to leave me alone without it getting me into any trouble. I remember one time when my father asked me who I loved most I told him that I loved him and my mother the same but that I loved God more than I loved either of them. Truth be told, I am not sure that I loved God more than anything at that time, and I am certain that I did not know what that really meant, nor did I have a good understanding of God. Also, had I been truthful I would have said that I loved my mother more, and the reason for that was that she always proved to me by her actions that she loved me and my father often proved quite the opposite about himself to me.

I would like to say that I love God more than I love anything else, and it certainly should be the case, but I am not always sure that it is the case. I at least make an effort to pray and to read from the Bible every day, and I do think about God and religion an awful lot during the day most days, but there are also times when I don’t read the Bible and I don’t make praying a priority because I allow the things of the world to distract me.

When Jesus announced to the apostles that all of them would fall away, Peter was adamant that he would never betray or deny Jesus, but since Jesus was God he knew better and informed Peter that he would deny him three times before the night was over. Of course, Peter denied all the more that he would ever deny Jesus and said he would die for him before he would deny him. Here is how it played out in the Bible:

 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:

“‘I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.

-Matthew 26:31-35

Jesus knew that Peter would fall away, but he also knew that he would return stronger than ever and made sure that Peter knew it when he said, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers,” -Luke 22:31-32

On this side of the event we know that not only did Peter deny Jesus that very night, he was trying so very hard, out of fear, to distance himself from Jesus that when a little girl pressured him about knowing Jesus he swore at her. That was definitely not Peter’s finest hour.

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.

But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”

He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

-Matthew 26:69-75

Not only did Peter deny Jesus in his time of need, but after he was crucified Peter lost his faith and abandoned the work Jesus had called him to perform. After Jesus died, Peter gave up on preaching the gospel and went back to his previous profession which was fishing. I really love fishing and there is certainly nothing wrong with fishing and Jesus obviously did not have an issue with fishing. No, the problem was not that Peter was fishing, the issue was that Peter had abandoned the greater task that Jesus had called hm to, to be a fisher of men.

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as 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. c 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.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 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.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell 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 21:1-19

There are a lot of things in this life that we can be tempted to love more than we love God, and not all of them are bad things in and of themselves, and in fact, many of them are good things, but when we allow anything to take the place of God in our hearts it becomes a bad thing. We should all examine how much time we actually spend pursuing God because if we don’t spend any time on God than we don’t love him. We should all ask ourselves if we love “these” whatever “these” are in our lives, more than we love God, and if the answer is yes than we need to make some changes.

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