One of my favourite characters in the Bible is Simon Peter. Of all the disciples, he captures my heart the most and stirs in me a strong empathy.
We can learn so much about how to love from him, and about God's love for us, especially as Peter's three denials of Jesus is perhaps one of his most well-known moments.
Shortly after Jesus' resurrection, the disciples were out fishing when Jesus showed up on the shore. As soon as Peter heard John exclaim that it was Jesus, he made no hesitation to leap into the sea and swim to Him, leaving the others to row to shore with all the fish (John chapter 21, verses 7–8).
I absolutely love this passage and find it very moving. This is the third stated time the disciples saw Jesus after His resurrection and Peter is still so excited to see Him.
Putting this alongside the fact that he denied knowing Jesus during His trial and crucifixion, and the plaguing sense of guilt that it brought him, moves my heart.
I would like to think that in this situation, I would be like Peter: that I would abandon everything and rush to Jesus and be wrapped in His embrace.
What more could one want?
God's love for us
Is that not what the Holy Spirit is like? Let us imagine this situation in reverse.
We are standing on a shore, looking for God and waiting. Maybe we call out, or maybe we just happen to stop by, it does not matter. God sees us and He does not wait for the boat to row the final ninety metres.
Instead, He sends out the Holy Spirit who plunges into the water and beelines for us, meeting us where we are with all the excitement and love He's got.
God does not need us to put up a fight and plunge into the water to prove ourselves to Him (though if we are really so eager He would certainly welcome the enthusiasm). Sometimes it is a matter of testing ourselves to see how far we are willing to go, but God can see where we are.
He can see our hearts and what we have to offer. We just have to come to Him. Open our doors to Him and make ourselves available; actively seek out His presence and love. He wants us to feel the love He has for us.
You know that I am fond of You
In John chapter 21, verses 15–17, the first two times Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me?" He uses the Greek word agapas, meaning to love unconditionally.
Peter responds each time with, "You know that I love You." But he uses the Greek philos, meaning to be fond of, to love affectionately as a friend, instead.
The third time Jesus asks, He uses the same word Peter has been using, which, for me, deepens explanation of why Peter was so hurt by this.
You see, I admire Peter's honesty and sensitivity here, and I can relate to him. He could not honestly claim to love Jesus adamantly, especially after the bold claims he made before Jesus' arrest, saying that he would never deny Him.
How did Jesus respond? He met him where he was and still entrusted His flock to him.
God will accept any amount of love we are willing to give Him. None of us are perfect and many of us struggle with loving someone unconditionally.
It may sound easy, but in truth, how many of us can wholly trust and rely on another—and never allow our insecurities to plague us with fear regarding them? How many of us are willing to completely follow someone and continually sacrifice what we want and desire?
Some of us can do that, and some of us are not yet ready. And that is okay. God loves each of us unconditionally and that covers our faults. He understands what we can offer and He appreciates it.
Whatever we can give, let it be genuine. God will use that.
Sabrina is a third year at University studying English and History. She has a passion for learning and creative writing with aspirations to one day become a high school teacher.
Sabrina Meyer's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressservice international.org/sabrina-meyer.html