Do We Love Him More Than These?

John 21:15-17 ESV

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

Who are The Sheep?

Who are the sheep Jesus was talking about? They are followers of Jesus Christ. They are those who have been crucified with Christ in death to sin and who were raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. They are those who are no longer living according to the flesh but who are walking according to the Spirit of God, by the Spirit. Collectively, they are the body of Christ.

And the body of Christ is called “the church.” But sadly, “the church” has taken on a different character now. Now when people talk about “the church,” at least here in America, they are mostly talking about a building and a church denomination or some other type of human institution being run like a business which is now being marketed to the people of the world, and so their gatherings have been altered to attract the world.

Now, “the church” (we the people of God) are called to come out from the world, to not be part of the world in character and actions. We are called to be holy (separate, unlike, different from the world) and to be like Jesus in character and in actions. And the purpose of our gatherings is for us to encourage one another in our walks of faith so that we can go out into the world with the gospel of Christ to win the world to faith in Jesus Christ.

But now it has all been inverted. Now the world is being drawn into the gatherings of “the church” so that “the church” is now taking on the character of the world in order to attract the world to their gatherings. So, rather than meeting as the body of Christ to help one another to mature in our walks of faith, now the world is the focus of the gatherings and so the gatherings are largely catering to the likes and interests of the world.

As Christians, we are to be going out into the world with the truth of the gospel, to present to them the gospel of our salvation regarding how we are all born in sin, separate from God, and how Jesus died for our sins to reunite us with God, by faith in Jesus Christ. And we are to be telling them that by faith we are to die with Christ to sin and we are to live to Christ and to his righteousness, in obedience to him, for this is the reason Jesus died for us.

But that has all been reversed. Now the church’s main goal appears to be to attract large crowds of people from the world into the gatherings of “the church” so that the world will now enjoy being with “the church.” So they changed their gatherings and they altered the gospel to appeal to the world and so “the church” has now become more like the world. And so they aren’t leading the world to true faith in Christ, for the most part.

More Than These

So, Jesus is asking us, too, if we love Him “more than these.” And “the these” are the trappings of the world which have now overtaken the true church, the body of Christ, so that “the sheep” are not being spiritually fed as they ought to be because “the church” is so busy trying to make “the church” attractive to the world. And so “the church” is no longer Jesus’ sheep, but now it is institutions of men catering to the likes of the world.

When “the church,” which is the sheep, is no longer just the sheep but it is now a mixture of sheep and the people of the world, and when “the church” no longer functions as the body of Christ in a biblical manner to where we are gathering with other sheep for mutual encouragement in our walks of faith, but now the gatherings are to attract the world, then we cease to be “the church,” but now we are just like any other worldly institution.

And the Bible calls that type of “church” Babylon, the Harlot. And the Lord is calling his true sheep to come out of Babylon so that we do not share in her sins and in her punishment, for her sins are piled high to heaven (see Revelation 18:1-6). And the Scriptures also call us out of such partnerships with the world when they instruct us not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (see 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).

Jesus found in the temple of God people who were doing worldly business and who were cheating people, too, and so he drove them out with a whip, and he overturned their tables where they were conducting their business, and he said, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” And the disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-17)

Well, Jesus is giving the same message to his true church today who have invited in the world and worldly business and marketing schemes and who have turned his church into a marketplace to be marketed to the world. And he is saying, “Take these things away,” and these are “the things” we are not to love more than we love Jesus. All that is of this world, all that is worldly, and all that is sinful we are to reject. Jesus alone we should honor.

Our Lord wants us to give up all that is worldly and he wants us to function as his true body doing the things his word instructs us that we should be doing as his true sheep. So, he is saying to us, “Do you love me more than these?” Do we love him more than we love the institutional church? Then we should come out of her and we should feed his sheep by being the church we ought to be in encouraging one another to grow to maturity in Christ.

Then we can go out into the world with the gospel, not to become like the world so they will think we are okay, but to share with them the love and grace of Jesus which includes us dying with Christ to sin that we might live to Christ and to his righteousness and with him for eternity. We need to call the world to obedience to Christ and to walk in his holiness and then they will be part of his true church, through faith in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace.

[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

I Will Lift My Eyes

An Original Work / December 12, 2012
Based off Psalms 121-125

I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
He will not let your foot slip, and He who watches will not sleep.
Our Lord watches over you, and your life He will keep.
I will lift my eyes to my Lord Most High.
My help comes from Him, who saved me from sin.
I give thanks to Him.

I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n.
Because of His great love for us, He made us alive with Christ.
Through the kindness of our Savior, He gave us new life.
I will lift my eyes to my God in heav’n.
I look to the Lord. My sins, He’s forgiv’n;
My home, now in heav’n.

Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
Those who trust will ne’er be shaken. God will supply all we need.
Our Lord has done great things for us. He’s our friend, indeed!
Praise be to the Lord, who is on our side.
Our help found in Him. He gives peace within.
I can count on Him.

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