When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me." John 21:15-19
I inwardly groaned when I saw that this passage is assigned for today. I've spoken before on how the passage uses different Greek words for love in Jesus third question, to his first and second). I've heard countless sermons on this passage so I come to it with a lot of information, interpretation and bias.
When I reflect on this passage today the question Jesus asks haunts me.
Do you love me?
The first thing that came to mind this morning was my friend Glen. For some reason Jesus' question reminded me of a status update he posted on facebook a while back.
I love Jesus, but I run a little
Glen is a Marathon Runner. One of his goals is to run the Boston Marathon. I tried to take up running, and 9 months later I'm still having treatment for some muscle problems. I would say that I run 'a little' while Glen runs a lot! Of course the play on words is in the fact that it is human experience to run from God a little.
I remember a Charlie Brown cartoon where Linus Van Pelt declared 'No problem is so big or complicated that it can't be run away from.' Lucy challenges him on this by asking 'What if we were all like you? What if we all ran away from our problems?' His response - 'Well at least we'd all be running in the same direction.'
I can think of many ways I could finish the sentence 'I love Jesus but I ___________'
The problem with the 'but' is that it makes whatever comes after it sound negative. Running is not always negative. Some of us are so afraid of putting a foot wrong that we would never run from God.....but maybe the God of our imagination needs to be run away from. Only by abandoning what is can we venture forth into new territories.
I didn't like reading this passage this morning, and I don't like where my meandering thoughts have taken me either. My prayer is that we can all find communities that let us run. Run towards God, run away from false ideas of God. Communities that recognize that even with our differences we are all running in the same direction.