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The Greek word 'φιλ σε' means 'I love you.' That was the Apostle Peter's answer when Jesus asked him three times, "Do you love Me?"
Do you love Me?
Today, numerous crimes are occurring in every corner of the world. The crimes become more cruel and dreadful than in the past. People have lost humanity and forsaken even their basic morals. The reason is that their love both for themselves and for others grow cold. Even many Christians do not follow God. They are not changed by the word of God; rather, they've turned away from the love of God.
Christ came into the earth to plant on our hearts the love which we had neither in heaven nor in earth. He showed us His everlasting love through His sacrifice. He sacrificed Himself to save us who were expelled from heaven after rebelling against God due to our pride and disobedience. Then, are we ready to give a definite answer to God, "I love You," like Peter? Let's check ourselves.
Jn 21:15-17 "When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord, ... 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."
Three times Jesus asked Peter the same question, "Do you love Me?" Then Peter gave Him a constant answer, "Yes, Lord, You know that I love You." After confirming Peter's steadfast love, Jesus entrusted His sheep to him, saying, "Feed My sheep."
Without love for God, no one can be a shepherd or a deacon or even a member of the Church. Though we all have been entrusted with the gospel, we cannot fulfill it with jealousy, envy and rivalry, but only with burning love toward God.
The Bible shows how much Peter loved Jesus. When a large crowd sent from the chief priests came to seize Jesus, Peter drew his sword out and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. He loved Jesus so much (Mt 26:47-53; Jn 18:1-11). When Jesus told His disciples that He had to suffer many things and be killed, Peter pleaded with Jesus, saying, "Never, Lord!" because he loved Jesus (Mt 16:21-23). Even when Jesus severely rebuked him, saying, "Get behind me, Satan!" Peter did not lose his love for Christ. Rather, he built his faith on the rock and became a good shepherd pleasing God.
Unless we absolutely love God like Peter, we can not follow the Lamb, whom we are to follow wherever He goes, and we will not be saved after all. The 144,000 are the people who absolutely love and believe God.
Deliver God's love with burning heart
We live in the last days, the gospel age, and are entrusted with the task of delivering the love of God contained in the 66 books of the Bible. This mission cannot be fulfilled by an obligatory preaching, but with a burning and earnest love toward God.
Php 2:5-8 "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: ... being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross!"
If our attitude is not the same as that of Christ, gospel preaching itself will be a torment. However, if we have the attitude of Christ, we will be able to love our brothers and sisters as Christ loved us, and we will never fail in loving God.
When we preach the gospel or worship God or deliver a sermon, without love for God or the mind of Christ we are only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
For whom did Christ, being in very nature God, suffer? For us who sinned in heaven and were driven out from heaven, He offered His life as a sin offering, didn't He?
"My children! I've loved you to the point of death. The suffering on the cross and the scorn of the creatures couldn't stop My love toward you." Don't you hear the earnest voice of God?
Let's think of how much we've loved God, how much we've practiced the love He showed us as an example even to the point of death on the cross. Haven't we become weak because of a small thing, or forsaken God's word without restraining our impulse?
If we do not love God absolutely, we cannot stand in faith to the end; when the wind blows, we will be swept away like chaff. Only the wheat filled with the love for God will be given the crown of glory.
Isa 53:1-12 "... He was despised and rejected by men, ... Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, ... But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed ... "
The above words show us vividly how much our holy God suffered in order to give peace and joy, eternal life and blessing to us sinners who were destined to die. To take us to heaven, to blot out all our iniquities, our God tore His flesh and shed His blood. By eating His flesh and drinking His blood through the Passover of the new covenant, our mind has been transformed into the mind of Christ. By keeping the Passover of the new covenant, we remain in Christ and Christ in us, so that we can follow the path of suffering that Christ walked, have the same attitude as He had, and practice His love, every hour, every minute.
Now it's our turn to love God. Until now God has loved us unconditionally, boundlessly; now we are to preach the gospel with a fervent love toward God, shouting, "φιλ σε!"
Following God's way of unconditional love, we should first sacrifice ourselves and love brothers; we are to do the gospel work, discerning what pleases God. When He entrusted us with the work of the gospel, He demanded nothing of us. He merely asked us, "Do you love Me?" If we can confidently answer, "φιλ σε [I love you]," we will be able to faithfully carry out our mission as prophets, bearing much fruit.
The work which our loving God entrusts to us
Let's find out how much God loves us, weak and feeble.
Isa 49:14-18 "But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, ... " "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. ... "
Our Father visited His children wherever they were-in a mountain valley or in a village by the sea-even if it took three days and nights. Through His flesh and blood, our Father opened the spiritual eyes of His children who did not recognize their own heavenly Parents, being tempted by Satan. How shall we repay our Father for His love?
Let's look at the life of our forefathers, who walked the way of faith before us, and examine our faith.
Heb 11:24-26 "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward."
Heb 11:33-38 "who through faith conquered kingdoms, ... Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword-the world was not worthy of them. ... "
Though the martyrs of the Early Church were stoned, sawed and killed by the sword, they loved God strongly, so the Holy Spirit was always with them. As a result, they left beautiful trace of faith which even the angels envy, and became a good example to the 144,000 who will finish the age of the gospel.
They loved God and followed the paths of Christ, laying down their lives. But since we are given the glory to be transformed alive, shouldn't we reveal our love for God more? Though the path of the gospel is difficult, we are to diligently preach the gospel with joy, giving thanks to God who's entrusted the wonderful work to us among the people like the sand by the sea.
'How can I graciously deliver the will of God?' 'How can I find my scattered family more, so that God is pleased?' If we preach the gospel with this kind of attitude of mind, we will be happy and joyful day by day. But if we tell the gospel from a mere sense of duty, without love for God, we will not please Him and may meet an unfortunate ending. When we can confess our love for God, all the problems of our faith are solved.
Only if we love God ardently, our faith will never cool down; ungracious words will not come from our lips; we will not act against the word, "Love one another"; we will never neglect the gospel preaching-how can we refuse God's earnest request? The more we love God, the more our faith becomes perfect.
How much did the saints of the Early Church love God? The Bible records that the world was not worthy of them. They spread the aroma of Christ all over the world. How gracious!
We are allowed the Holy Spirit seven times stronger than at the times of the Early Church. We love the Holy Spirit and the Bride who give us the water of life. We are to follow Them with faith like the perfume of myrrh.
Our forefathers loved God, not fearing death. We are the 144,000 saints who are to practice greater love than they did. Let's carry out our God's request, "Feed My sheep," shouting, "φιλ σε!" from the bottom of our heart. Until the 144,000 stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb, let's shout, "φιλ σε!"