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Myers: With love, God will take what we are willing to give

POSTED: January 25, 2009 1:00 a.m.

I sometimes wonder if I love God enough.

I mean, I know I love him. And even though I love him as much as I possibly can, I sometimes wonder if I love him as much as he wants me to love him. Am I capable of that amount of love? Probably not.

Then I think about Chloe and Cole. I know they love me, but do they love me enough? Do they love me as much as I want them to love me? I don't think they do.

Yet as their father, I realize they're young. I know they're still learning what love is and how to express it. So while they don't know how to love me as much as I would like for them to, I'll take as much love from them as they are able to give.

It reminds me of an exchange between Jesus and Peter (John 21:15-17). When Jesus was arrested, his disciples deserted him. Peter denied Jesus three times. Yet after Jesus' resurrection, he comes to Peter and asks him, "Do you love me?"

Funny thing about that word "love." In the Greek language, Jesus is saying "agape." This is a godly love, a self-sacrificing love. The kind of love that makes you give up everything for another.

Peter says to Jesus, "I love you." Here, however, Peter doesn't use the word "agape." Instead, he uses the word "phileo." This is a brotherly love, not nearly the kind of love Jesus is asking for.

Again Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, using the word "agape." Again Peter tells Jesus he loves him, using the word "phileo."

At last Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me?" But this time Jesus doesn't use the word "agape." He uses the word "phileo." Peter answers that he does love Jesus, also using "phileo."

Do you know what this passage tells us about loving our heavenly father? It tells us that he wants us to love him in a certain way.

He wants us to love him with an all-consuming, self-sacrificing love. But like Peter, we just can't love him like he wants us to.

What does God do? Does he berate us? Does he reject us? Does he refuse to love us until we learn to love him like he wants us to? No.

God does a most amazing thing. Even though we cannot love him as much as he wants us to, he accepts the love were capable of giving him.

That's what Jesus did with Peter. That's what I do with my kids. And that's what your heavenly father will do with you.

Parrish Myers is pastor of Pine Crest Baptist Church in Gainesville. His column runs every other week in Sunday Life.



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