Ever hear this quote- “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes?”
At the age of 83, Benjamin Franklin coined this phrase after signing the Constitution of the United States and died a mere year later.
One has to wonder what Old Ben was thinking- such a bleak look on life!
Others might say life is about friendship, happiness, service, encouragement or fulfillment of your dreams.
Marc Chagall says, “In our lives there is a simple color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love.”
I like this idea: love is the color of life.
Way better than death and taxes! Could it be that simple? The one true certainty in life is love?
I say a thousand times- “Yes!”
Considering, the very author of life goes by the name of love:
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” ~1 John 4:16
So, if the very creator of life is love, it stands to reason that love is the motivation for life.
Do you realize that the Bible speaks of love over 300 times and paints an overwhelming portrait of love that is so powerful that love sacrifices its own life all for our benefit?
I think we gloss over and diminish the power of love; we believe it all mushy-gushy feelings that have no prominent place in our lives. Love is seen as a weakness. Grit, determination, loyalty, hard work, and righteousness ranks higher on our motivational meters with love resigned to romance novels and kids’ stories.
We have it all backward- because love is a life-changing force!
One of the most critical questions Jesus ever posed demonstrates this point. To explain, I need to give you a little bit of a backstory on the Apostle Peter. The Apostle Peter (originally called Simon) was a commercial fisherman who had such an intense encounter with Jesus he dropped everything and followed Jesus for three years. Peter became part of Jesus’ inner circle and was privy to many of Jesus’ miracles and personal teachings. But, when Jesus is arrested, Peter quickly denies knowing Jesus (not once but three times!) Peter then abandons his mission, returns to his former life as a fisherman and believes himself an epic failure.
That is until Jesus reappears and poses three questions to Peter:
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again, Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” ~John 21:15-19
THREE TIMES JESUS ASKS, “DO YOU LOVE ME?”
Did you catch that Peter’s response was all that mattered?
Peter was forgiven for his betrayal and abandonment because his heart was in the right place. Peter realized that love covers a multitude of sins and when love is your motivator anything is possible. His response to Jesus resonated throughout his life; as he went on to be a founding pillar of the early church- devoting his life to his love mission.
The reciprocal love of Christ is what turned Peter's life around!
This story reminds me of other influential people: Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr., and William Carey to name a few. Great people who left their mark on history with love as their foundational motivation- love of Christ and love of others.
I’m sure there were times these folks (like Peter) struggled with self-doubt, hardships, failure, lack of motivation and even selfishness. But, I’d bet they heard Jesus whispering in their ears asking, “do you love me?” All we have to do is look at their lives to know the response.
If we could only grasp and fully embrace the transforming power of love, I believe our lives and the world would drastically look different- no longer the drab picture of death and taxes; instead, a brilliant wash of color that permanents everything we do with the certainty of love at its center.
All we need is love to bring vibrant color into our lives and subsequently into the world!
It is the one certainty that is eternal.
So, when Jesus asks, “do you love me” -- how will you respond?
Father, thank you for your great love. You tell us that we love because you first loved us. You are the very author of transformative- life giving love. Help us to love others and let love be our motivator in all things. May we always respond positively to your call of love in our lives.
“Do everything in love.” ~ 1 Corinthians 16:14