When they had finished eating, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” He answered, “You know I love You.” Jesus replied, “Feed My lambs.” Jesus asked a second time, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he answered, “You know I love You.” Jesus told him, “Shepherd My sheep.” Jesus asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was deeply hurt that Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love Me?” “Lord, You know all things;” he replied, “You know I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.” (John 21:15-17, emphasis added)
Lately I’ve been having a hard time connecting with God. Being a Christian is not as easy as I had imagined it would be.. It is so much more than simply going to church and tithing 10% of your paycheck. In my experience this is only a small portion of my relationship with Jesus. Being a Christian means that you are faithful to God all of the time. In the morning when you wake up, when you are taking a shower, when you are running errands, when people in your life are against God, and when you are about to fall asleep. This is the hardest thing for me and I think for a lot of people. It’s easy to worship God in church and to think about him in bible study, but how do we remain faithful to God even in the mundaneness of each day? How do I keep the flame of my love for God burning when life is boring and it feels like I just can’t connect with God? How can I continue to love God in a world that is turning against him? Like a long distance runner, I want to endure until the end, not tire myself out then walk to the finish line.
From reading scripture I have learned that one of the most important things to God (if not the most important) is whether or not his children are faithful to him. The story that Jesus shares in Matthew 25:21 shows us that one of the first things we will hear when we come face to face with God is either praise for our faithfulness or scolding for our laziness.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21)
Jesus emphasizes faithfulness because faithfulness is so closely connected to love (Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalm 36:5, Lamentation 3:22-23). In John 21 Jesus asks Peter three times in a row if he really loves him. Each time after Peter tells Jesus that he does, Jesus replies by instructing him to do as he was previously instructed to do; namely, feed and tend his sheep (his people).
When a shepherd cares for sheep, much of their daily tasks are repetitive and uneventful, however, Jesus says that if we truly love him we will persevere in listening to his instruction even when our flesh is weak and giving our attention to other things is much easier for us to do (Matthew 26:41). Just like any ideal relationship, faithfulness is a key component of both parties involved. My greatest and most frequent prayer involves me begging God to teach me how to be faithful and protect me from being faithless. Our culture is moving more and more away from God and into sin. Matthew 24:10 warns us of this: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold”. I have made a decision not to be one of those people, and with God’s help I will continue to faithfully press on towards the upward goal.
This is my encouragement for you today. Fight the good fight brothers and sisters, and place your relationship with God at the top of your priority list, even when it is not the popular, fun, or convenient thing to do. Put Christ first not because it is the easiest thing to do, but because He alone deserves our energy and attention. Commit all your ways to Christ because He loves you and wants what is best for you. We should be faithful to God because he was faithful to us even when we didn’t deserve it.
God is not interested in a rule follower, he is interested in an enduring relationship with you. Only a soft heart that is faithful to God in the small things will see that relationship grow to deeper levels. I want to be faithful to God because He knows best. God is always looking for faithful followers and is eager to reward them (1 Samuel 26:23, Proverbs 20:6, Proverb 28:20, 1 Corinthians 4:2, Deuteronomy 7:9) . God favors the faithful, so ask God to protect you and keep you all of your days so that you may be one of the good and faithful servants.
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)