It was Valentine’s Day and it turned out to be a milestone day in my relationship with the girl I considered to be the best catch in our class. I knew she had been seriously dating someone else for quite a while, and I had to plan my moves very shrewdly or I’d scare her off. So, we had what we both called this “brother/sister” relationship. Oh, sure I wanted it to be more, but at least I could spend some time with her this way without scaring her off. Well, one day I’d had enough of this platonic relationship stuff. She was actually bringing a Valentine’s cake up to some radio staff at our college and I happened to be there. We got into a pretty intense discussion there, standing by the water fountain. And finally I blurted out what I’d been feeling for a long time, “I’m sick and tired of just being your ‘brother.’ I want it to be much more!” There it was, man, all or nothing. And what happened? I married the girl! (OK, this is the part where the audience cheers.)
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Beyond Platonic to Passionate.”
Setting aside the romantic part of this, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus doesn’t want to have a conversation with you and me like I had with the woman I loved that day. “I’m tired of the level of relationship you’ve settled for with Me. I want it to be so much more!” So many of us have been settling for a static, humdrum, platonic relationship with Jesus, and He’s calling us to something far more passionate with Him.
Simon Peter, the man who was always at Jesus’ service, found out what Jesus cared about most the day Jesus asked him The Question. It’s found in John 21, beginning with verse 15. It’s our word for today from the Word of God. The risen Christ has called Peter aside for a private conversation on the lakeshore. “Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon…do you truly love Me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon…do you truly love Me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of My sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon…do you love Me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ He said, ‘Lord…You know that I love You.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.'”
Now, notice what Jesus didn’t ask: “Do you believe in Me?” or “Do you want to work hard for Me?” He only wanted to know one thing, “Do you really love Me?” That’s all He really wants to know from you. One reason He asks it three times, I think, is because it’s just so easy to say a cheap “yes.” We know yes is the only right answer, but Jesus is saying, “Are you ready to take your commitment to me, your closeness to me, to a much deeper level? Do you want our relationship to be much more than it has been?” He does. He poured out His blood – His life for you. How can we settle for the same old level of loving Him; predictable, official, mechanical, playing it safe.
What will it mean to become more passionate in your love for Jesus? First, it’s going to mean more time with Him – not just a rushed or occasional time with Jesus on the margins of your schedule. We’re talking about like non-negotiable, daily “face time” with your Savior. More love also means more honesty – not just talking to Him from your head; not just saying to Him what you’re “supposed to” say, but I mean pouring out the deepest corners of your heart to Him.
And going for more of Jesus means more praise – consciously, all day long, looking for Jesus all over your day and stopping to praise Him when you see Him. And enlarging your Jesus-love means more territory, letting go of that steering wheel in areas of your life where you’ve been holding onto control. Releasing what you love most completely to His control, because you can’t love Him as He deserves if you’re loving something else more. That’s spiritual adultery.
Imagine Jesus standing there in front of you, looking you in the eyes saying, “Are you ready to really love Me? I died for our relationship to be more than this.” The hymn writer said: “I love Thee because Thou has first loved me, and purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree; I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow; if ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.”