The “love” thing is big with me. Anyone who knows me, follows me, has read my books or heard me preach knows that. My starting point with everyone, saint or sinner, is that God loves you. You should know that God loves you. God loves you for no reason other than that he loves you. He loves you with no strings attached. He loves you in spite of what we call “behavior.” He loves you before the foundation of the world and he loves you for an eternity.
That means there is no beginning or end to his love. That means no top. No bottom. No left side. No right side. His love cannot be contained by anything because it escapes our wildest imagination and our capacity to comprehend.
His love is indescribable. His love is matchless. His love is unconditional, which trips us up because we’re unfamiliar with any emotion that has no conditions attached. We’re acquainted with love that comes with its own stipulations. Required behavior. Required reciprocation. Required submission. Required subjugation.
Not so with the love of God. And his love must be the standard because he is the very definition of love.
When Jesus looked at Peter, the first time, his heart was filled with love for Peter. Because he’s Jesus he could see the ulterior motives that drove Peter in his zealous political direction; he could see the skewed world view that threatened to block Peter’s conception of Jesus’ mission on earth. He could see the strong willed and muscled disciple with the ability to lead the others away if he’d really tried. He could see the furor that would lead him to sever the ear of an arresting soldier when Jesus was finally apprehended. He could see Peter uttering the phrase that would illicit a prophesied crow from the nearest rooster, declaring unfamiliarity with the Savior himself.
None of this could prevent the love that flowed from the heart of Jesus to the heart of the hard headed, stubborn fisherman, who would become a celebrated apostle in his own right and spread the gospel of heaven with keen acumen.
Because Peter had been created to walk on water.
The love thing is important because I believe the salvation thing has no place to rest if not in the lap of the love thing. It’s basic to our relationship with God through Jesus as it is to every relationship we enjoy, even that with ourselves. Salvation becomes a call to duty if there is no authentic realization that we are actually called to be who we were created to be…the object of God’s affection.
If we don’t get the love thing, then the call is simply an enlistment to serve in the army of an exacting commander who wields rods of correction at every misstep. It’s nothing more than another way to expend energy and emotion, the reality of which we don’t even own; haven’t even experienced. Don’t even know.