Devotion, April 29, 2020
Read John 21.15-19
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Movement, created Three General Rules, or Three Simple Rules as they are often known to shape our lives. He believed that ‘religion’ often became too complex and understood the power in simplicity. The rules, “Do no Harm, Do Good and Stay in Love with God,” were to shape individual lives as well as the communities who desired to follow Christ. They are as significant to us today as they were in the 18th century.
This coming Sunday we are contemplating the last rule, “Stay in Love with God,” and using this scripture as our text. It is a beautiful text of Peter’s love and Jesus’ grace. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. Peter responds that he indeed loves him. The question, ‘Do you love me?’ is asked three times to counter the three times Peter denied knowing Jesus before his crucifixion.
The Church of the Primacy of Peter is on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. On the shoreline of the church, property are six heart stones representing these two stories. The above picture is of one of the six heart-shaped stones. These stones were not placed here but discovered. Their original purpose were boat moorings.
Peter, while annoyed at the end with Jesus’ questioning, said he loved him. Jesus, each time asked Peter to take on a responsibility to feed and tend his sheep and lambs. Jesus is asking Peter to do something that will not make him a hero or be noticed by others. He is asking him day in and day out to love him by loving others through simple and needed acts. Jesus knew that his words and his repetitive actions would help Peter to fall in love and stay in love with God.
In the movie “The Princess Bride” a beautiful young woman named Buttercup lives on a farm. Throughout the early scenes of the movie, she is forever instructing the farmhand named Westly to do things for her. Every time Westly simply answers “As you wish.” Buttercup eventually comes to realize that his “As you wish” really means “I love you.” She realizes that she loves him in return. Westly’s love for Buttercup was demonstrated in the simple acts that he was willing to do for her with great devotion.
Wesley’s third rule to “Stay in Love with God” is not something that can be done at the last minute or with one fell swoop. It is not a heroic act. It is a lifelong process of doing the ordinary things, the simple things with devotion that say ‘I love you.’