“Simon, son of John, do you love me? Feed my sheep’’.
John 21 : 16
The preacher looked at me and asked me: ‘Do you love me?’ An odd question I know but he was speaking about Jesus and not himself!! This is one of those questions that refuses to go away and one of the reasons is because I think about it often.
I think about it often because I was asked this question nearly 30 years ago on 9 th June 1991 at my Ordination. I think about it often because every day this question impacts who I am and what I do as your Pastor.
The preacher that day was my College Principal and he wanted to make sure that I didn’t forget his description of what it meant for me to be a Pastor of the flock of God, his church. Therefore, he very wisely gave me something that was not only short, but also very memorable; just to make sure I wouldn’t forget it.
He asked me this question because he wanted to remind me that whether I was reading or praying or preaching or visiting or encouraging or teaching or mentoring or leading or guiding or helping or writing or speaking – I was to do all these things because of love.
Love was to guide me as I thought about these things. Love was to permeate how I did these things. Love was to be heard in how I spoke and when I was quiet. Love was to be my greatest inspiration to never give up but to be willing to plod on and on again and again.
Looking back over these 30 years I know it would be easy to focus on my failures, but I don’t because Jesus asks me this not to crush me but to forgive me. He asks me this not to hurt me but to restore me.
He asks me this not to punish me but to renew me. He asks me this that I may carry on and not despair. He asks me this that I may be a sign and an encouragement to each one of us to know this forgiving, this restoring, this renewing, this carrying on again love for ourselves in our lives day after day after day.