The Greatest of These

“Jesus, sometimes I feel like such a failure. I can’t even keep the commandments. You said to hate is murder, but I know I’ve had hate in my heart at times. I try to love, but I get so frustrated, hurt, and offended.”

“Maybe you should quit spending so much time on social media.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind. Where does your love come from?”

“I don’t understand.”

“What’s the source of your love for yourself, for others, and for me?”

“Um . . . give me a minute, I know this. Is that the Final Jeopardy music?”

“And people think I don’t have a sense of humor. When Peter denied me three times, and then I restored him by commissioning him to love others, what kind of love did I call him to?”

“Ooh! I know this one—in Greek it’s the word ‘agape,’ which is the highest form of love.”

“You pronounce it terribly, but that’s right. And what did Peter answer he could love with?”

“Wasn’t it ‘agape,’ too?”

“No.”

“And I was doing so well there for a second.”

“When I challenged him to love with ‘agape’, he answered he could only love with ‘phileo,’ which is a brotherly love.”

“So even Peter struggled to love?”

“Of course. No one is capable of loving like I do in their own strength.”

“Great. Now I feel . . . just awful. What’s the point, if none of us can do even the most basic commandment? How can we love each other when we can’t even love you?”

“You can love me, yourselves, and each other, if you’ll receive the love I give you. It isn’t based on what you have or haven’t done, but on what I’ve done for you. The cross is so much more than most realize. My death and resurrection mean I’ve won back the power to fill every soul to overflowing with the love that created the universe. My love empowers your life—your peace, joy, hope, faith, and every relationship you have. And there’s no limit to my love, so it never has to be hoarded. The more you give away, the more you’ll have, because your capacity to carry my love will increase. Love is the unending, unshakeable foundation of my kingdom, not a reward for performance.”

“I . . . wow.”

“Yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. It’s not a bad idea to just let that soak in a bit every day.”

“So, to the live the way You’ve said is possible, all I really need to do is to receive your love and give it away?”

“You’d be amazed at how people complicate that, but yes.”

“That completely takes off all the pressure I’ve put on myself to be what I thought I was expected to be. I don’t have to perform for approval, or try to get anyone else to, either. I can be holy, because you are, not because I’ve earned it. I knew that, I just didn’t know that. I—I don’t even know what else to say.”

“I know. I love you too.”

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