It is what we love – or more particularly, who we love. To whom do we respond? To whom do we give our attention? Whom do we want about all else to please? Whose smile is our greatest reward; whose frown our severest punishment? Who awakes in us our best, and subdues in us our worst? Who shapes our senses of values to his own? Who captures our wills until we want for ourselves what he wants for us? Love can be faked for a while. But someday the pretense will show up for what it is. Then a man’s real love will be manifest – whether it be for money, or for fame, or for himself, or for whatever or whomever else. What a man loves above all else is within the realm of his personal freedom to determine, and it is the most important thing about him, whoever he is. This is confirmed in the face that the first and greatest commandment is “Thou shalt love the Lord.” It is confirmed, too, in that the first – indeed the only – question which the risen Christ demanded that Peter settle once for all, and which he alone could settle for himself, was “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” More than these – more than your opinions, your habits, your customary way of doing things, your comfort and your convenience. For all your failures of the past, your compromising involvements in the present – do you love me?
(Source: Questions God Asks, Beckelhymer, 1961, pg. 127-8)
Jesus asks each one of us – Do you love me? What is our response? Do we voice the words of love, yet not act them out? Are our words matched by our actions? Or do our actions speak louder than our words and confirm the answer?
Do we love our neighbors? That doesn’t seem too difficult.
How about your enemies – do you love them? Jesus said to love your enemies. That wasn’t a suggestion.
How about love of God? How would we show love of God?
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment.
(Matthew 22:37-38, NRSV)
How do we show love of Jesus?
‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
(John 14:15, NRSV)
These aren’t suggestions that can ignored. They are ways that we show what is really going inside of us.
When Jesus asks “Do you love me?” What is your answer?
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’
(Matthew 25:31-46, NRSV)
Jesus is asking – Do you love me? Show me.