John 21:15-17 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.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved 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.
Many times when we read this passage of scripture we hone in on the fact that Peter has denied Christ and it reads like Jesus is calling him out and making sure, three times, that Peter gets it. But what if this is really a call to Peter to stop playing “church” and start living it…stop wanting to be fed and start feeding others? To stop following to gain more knowledge and understanding of Jesus and His message and start applying that message to his life and those around him? I believe it is the same call Jesus is laying out to us right now!
Jesus is saying to Peter, and us – you say you love me; now show it by how you respond to that love – by making disciples. Grace is a free gift and there is nothing you can do or say to gain it, yet as followers of Jesus our mission was never to be content with simply knowing Jesus and gaining more head knowledge about Him. Our mission is to make disciples which takes the focus off of us and places it back where it belongs – on Jesus!
You see, Jesus knew that Peter was ready to begin changing the world (part of Jesus’ plan all along), yet he had to make a choice – since I have denied Jesus, I can wallow around in self pity and focus on me, me, me…or, I can choose to take what I know about this amazing Savior, and what I have learned from Him about love and grace, and share it with everyone I come in contact with from this day forward. Thank God that Jesus challenged Peter to step out of the “feed me” mindset and into the life-changing world of making disciples! The Church was born out of this not-so-subtle mind shift, and seems to be all but collapsing today because that mind shift has reversed!
His message for us is the same…as followers of Jesus it’s time for us to stop expecting to be fed by our local churches and start feeding ourselves. It’s time to stop simply going to a church and start being The Church. The local church is not a place for believers to come for primarily faith feeding. The local church is there for community and deployment! We build community with one-another and serve within the local church. We are family, and family serves one-another well! We also come together to be deployed to be a light in a world gone mad. When members of local churches are inwardly focused, they become stagnant. Serving and giving seldom happen at the level God desires because it’s not about Him anymore, it’s about us! What a sad place for a believer to be – so inwardly focused that they miss the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of so many!
If you ever start thinking that your life in Christ is about you, you need to step back and realize it has never been about you…it has and always will be about Jesus! Let’s lead our lives as though that were true…because it is! Living for Christ and serving others by extending His love, mercy and grace is how followers are to respond to His love – feed and follow:
John 21:19b And after saying this He said to him, “Follow me.” …and history continues!