What is it that drives you? What is it that really drives me? The world we live in gives us empty promises, which most often drive us. When we get there, we find it didn’t satisfy or wasn’t what we thought it would be. At the core there is much despair. We feel cheated and lied to, but we push on because “what other choice to we have?” We pursue significance, acceptance, validation, someone who will tell us that we have what it takes. We pursue these in our job, relationships, music, hobbies, habits, addictions and those things which are the darkest and most hidden part of us. Yet, in spite of all these pursuits we find that we don’t measure up. We find loneliness, isolation, boredom, emptiness, lack of friendships, lack of intimacy, broken relationships, depression and a sense of futile uselessness. In a society where we are taught and expected to wear a mask or front that we are self-confident and have it all together… at our very core the longing questions we have are: “Do you love me, does anyone love me? Am I loved? Can I be truly loved if people knew the real me who I know?”
Henri J.M. Nouwen wrote in his book In the Name of Jesus, “In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, cares, reaches out and wants to heal. In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment and not a tinge of hatred. It’s a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response. It’s a heart that suffers immensely because it sees the magnitude of human pain and the great resistance to trusting the heart of God who wants to offer consolation and hope.” (37, 38)
We long for the hope, love and acceptance that can heal our deepest wounds. The tension is that in order for us to experience this, we must trust the one we are coming to for this love and trusting that they will not hurt us but rather help to heal us. But who can we trust like this? Who really understands?
There is a man who, like us, felt that he had blown it too bad to ever have a chance at a better life. He had let fear grip him during an intense time of his life and because of this he made some poor choices. He blew it at the very time he had the opportunity to shine. Because of his decisions, he returned to his old way of life thinking that he wasn’t worthy of continuing his new life.
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
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.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
The very God who knows our deepest pain, our deepest sins, our deepest longings also knows the deepest truth about us. Because of this, He pursues us in our despair to remind us and show us the truth about who we really are… about who He created us to be.
Peter had denied Jesus, not just once but three times! Jesus was on trial and sentenced to an unjust death. He was killed in one of the most excruciating methods known to man through all of history. This Jesus was one of Peter’s absolute closest friends, the one around whom Peter had planned his future. Now Peter’s world had crashed in on him and he felt worthless and empty. It’s in this time of despair that Jesus came to Peter and a few of the other disciples and they didn’t even recognize Him. Granted, He was the last person they expected to see since they had seen Him killed and buried. Yet it is this Jesus who comes, after his resurrection, to them and seeks out a dialogue with Peter.
Jesus asked Peter the very question which Peter longed to know of Jesus: “Do you love me?” This is the same question each of us really want to know of God in the midst of our sin and despair: do You really love me? It’s the question we try to get answered in the relationships and enticements of this world, which is out of order. There is a place for love, acceptance and worth in this world but it can’t be elevated above God. When we go to God first and experience His indescribable and unconditional love, it changes everything. For Peter, it changed everything and he went on to become one of the most influential leaders in the early church.
For us, it changes everything when we realize we are loved…no matter what.
For us, it changes everything when we realize we are loved and forgiven!
For us, it changes everything when we realize and accept that Jesus came to set us free and to give us life!
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
1 John 1:5-9