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Love times three

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. . . . 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, 13

It's as easy as pie. I'm not sure where this phrase comes from, but I can assure you, pie isn't easy. At least not the crust part. Pie takes patience and getting the ingredients exactly right, including the order they go into the crust. I've learned you can leave an ingredient out, and it might even taste ok, but it won't be that flaky, melt in your mouth crust you expect.

My grandmother didn't cook all that much, but the things she made were fabulous. Pie crusts were at the top of that short list. Every year, we would go blackberry picking and she would make the most amazing pies. To this day, I haven't found a blackberry pie like hers. The berries were just the right amount of sweet to contrast the flaky, earthy taste of the crust. She had a system, and it worked to perfection.

As Christians, we are called to love. Easy as pie, right?

Maybe it should be until that pesky humanity gets in the way. I love her, but. Have you ever had that thought? But, she's so dramatic. But, she is so needy. But, she's so self-righteous. Or whatever drives us crazy about her.

Jesus gives us the map we need to love like Him. He shows us exactly what love is and what it isn't. It's patient and kind. Love protects and trusts. It doesn't keep records of right and wrong or boast or dishonor someone.

I love the relationship Jesus had with Peter. Jesus could have easily said, Peter I love you but you are impetuous. Or, I love you Peter, but you are really arrogant.

Yet, Jesus never said that. He was honest with Peter, and called him out when needed, but overall He just loved him.

As Jesus' time on earth came to end, He blessed Peter with this conversation:

15 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.”

16 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.”

17 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." John 21:15-17

Let's look at this exchange closely. The first two times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, Jesus used the word agape or sacrificial love. But Peter answered using the word phileo, a brotherly kind of love or affection. Peter learned from boasting the words, "even if everyone else falls away, I will stay." (Matthew 26:33) Now, after betraying the man he chose to follow and love, he's learned some humility. So Jesus brings it to Peter's level and asks him a third time if He loves Him, this time using the word phileo. When Peter answers that third time, using phileo, Jesus blesses his humility by telling him he will be a leader of Jesus' people. Jesus restored Peter to the ministry with so much love.

Friends, this is the love Paul is talking about in his letter to Corinth. It's selfless, keeping no record of wrongs, and it doesn't dishonor Peter. From my humanity, I want to say Peter doesn't deserve to be shown grace, and certainly not to lead in the new church. But because I strive to be holy, I am thrilled that Jesus offers this grace and I'm humbled by the fact He will do the same for me, even though I don't deserve it, either.

Let's love like Jesus! We probably won't do it perfectly, but we can certainly try!

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