Pastoral Perspectives

Loving Jesus

The first thing I had to do when I woke up was to tell mom about my dream. So I went to her room and blurted out, “I dreamt that Rooney (my dog) was lost and I cried like a baby!” “Your dad is crazy,” she said to Rooney who had just jumped onto her bed to dispense his daily dose of doggie love. After finishing the usual morning business with Rooney, I sat down to read the papers and realized that it was Valentine’s Day. Yes, it was a day for people to show love to that someone special and for one moment in time, I was actually pondering if Rooney was my Valentine. Else why should I cry like a baby? Do I love my dog? Will my dog know or believe that I do love him? And so the passage in John 21 came to mind. Well, there was also a time when the disciples thought that they had lost Jesus and Peter had also wept bitterly. And so the Lord appeared to him and asked the question that people love to ask on Valentine’s Day. Three times the Lord asked and three times Peter answered that the Lord knew he loved him. And three times the Lord responded that Peter ought to show it with deeds.

So do I love my dog? Surely I do, for I have cared and fed him ever since he has been with me. I give him quality food and supplements which I do not even provide for my own body. When he had diarrhea a week before CNY, I brought him down to relieve himself almost every hour through the night and cleaning him up each time without any fuss. Other dogs are envious of him because he gets to walk three times a day and his den is as big as my bedroom. Surely Rooney knows that I love him and I trust that no one can deny it. But can I say the same of my love for the Lord? Am I bold enough to say that the Lord knows I love him more than I love Rooney? Will others sneer at my claim? Each Sunday, we come together to sing praises to God and telling the Lord how much we love him. Well, after being reminded of what the Lord had said to Peter, I guess I should be ready to show it with deeds more than roses and sweet voices. If I can do it for my dog, surely I can do even more for my Lord. What about you?

Well, I can say that we are all ready to show our love for Jesus with deeds. When the church announced a special collection to cover the medical cost for Sabrina, many gave graciously such that the final collection was three times more than the amount needed. And I believe there are many other such cases. I can testify to it because I had also received much when I was in bible college. When the Lord blesses us richly, we feel loved and it is natural that we want to bless others in return. I am sure none of us will have any qualms about it. It is about loving God through deeds and if I may say, within our comfort zone. The challenge comes when we are called to go beyond it. So let us get back to John 21.

While Peter was still reeling from hurt after being asked the third time, he was told the kind of death by which he would glorify God. So Peter had more to do than just caring for the people. Would that be too much for him? I still remember how Rooney was once attacked by a dog more than twice his size. His first yelp was enough to get me into action. And so I grabbed the dog away without thinking even once. When the drama was over, I marveled at myself. What if the dog turned around and attacked me? Well, I have always thought that loving my dog simply means feeding, caring and showering him with love. It has never occurred to me that it may also include risking flesh and bones until that incident. Blame instinct for the heroic act but I seriously wonder whether I will really do it if given the time and space to think about it. I do love my dog but how far will I go to show it? Peter was ready to go the distance for his Master. He did not flinch from it when told. For if he could leave everything he had behind and followed Jesus when he had yet to witness his work, what more now that he had nothing left with him but a powerful testimony of a resurrected Lord? No, Peter did not flinch from it except that he turned, saw and asked, “What about him?” And we know what Jesus said to him.

Now, are you also ready to go the distance for your Lord’s sake? No, I am not talking about laying down your life like a martyr. I am talking about doing things that may not be comfortable for you. I am talking about rolling up your sleeves and serving with the same fervor that you have for your career or making a guest feel welcomed and loved such that the person wants to come back again and again or giving to others when you are also in need. Are we ready to do it for the Lord or do we turn around looking at someone else and suggest, “What about him or her?” Peter asked the question in a sense of wanting to compare their lots. I suppose we usually ask the question more in the hope of passing the lot to others. If so, can we still say that we love Jesus. Do we even dare to say to Jesus that he knows we love him?

So Valentine’s Day came and went before I could tell my dog that I love him. But I guess I do not have to wait until the next Valentine’s Day to say it. I can always show it to him with extraordinary deeds while I still have him with me. So while we still have breath, let it also be true of our love for Jesus.

Ps Ronnie

February 20, 2011