I guess of all the questions that face us in our lives as followers of Jesus, this one question is perhaps the most powerful and potent for us, the one Jesus asked Peter as he gently reinstated the one who had denied him three times: Do you love me?
This is a most searching question, if we face it squarely and honestly. It is one that searches our hearts and motives to find what makes us tick, what animates and drives us. In one way or another we live or die, or fail to live well, because of our love life.
There are different kinds of human love, and each of them have their place and are wonderful as gifts from God. They all elicit commitment, respect and response to each other, as loved ones: a mother to her baby and children, a father to his family, a husband to his wife and vice-versa, siblings to each other, as well as friends to each other. These things are all good and important in their rightful place.
In Richard Foster's fine, interesting and helpful book on prayer we read this quote from Augustine: "True, whole prayer is nothing but love." (p 1). Love of God beginning with the love from God, and love of our neighbor as ourself make up the two greatest commandments which are tied together by our Lord. This love in Jesus is even to go towards our enemies in praying for and doing good to them.
Getting back to our Lord's words to Peter, we find that this reinstatement by grace of this repentant Peter, was marked by directives as to what Peter should do: "Feed my lambs." "Take care of my sheep." "Feed my sheep." And ended with words about the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God, punctuated with the command to simply follow Jesus: "Follow me!" This was all given both to help Peter to a deeper heart repentance and love, as well as obedience in expressing that love to others.
As we really consider our love life in God through Christ, bringing all our loves into that light, then those loves can begin to take their proper place. They will be better than ever because underlying them will be the love of the Lord which not only never grows old, but never dies.
Of course we're so utterly dependent and needy and our emotional life rises and wanes, especially when we're tired, or face the challenges and griefs of a fallen world. But this love of God lived out in our relationships and in the world, is what will win out in the end. A love in Jesus that takes up the cross and follows to the end, no matter what. A love because of Jesus that is destined to take over the world. The love of God which never will know any end forever.
What would you add to this? Or any thought.