“You must follow me”. John 21:22
My last two ‘monthly messages’ were reflections from John 21, where Peter is restored and commissioned afresh to serve and follow the risen Jesus. They were under the titles: “The test of love is a searching of the heart” and “The cost of love is a surrendering of the will”. This month my third and last meditation from this chapter is entitled:
“The fruit of love is singleness of mind”
Peter still didn’t quite grasp all that Jesus meant about discipleship. He starts to follow, then John joins them and Peter wants to know what’s in store for him. How easy it is to divert ourselves from this all-important matter of following Christ. We want to be sure that, if we are prepared to follow Jesus totally even to death, that that is also what awaits our other Christian brothers or sisters. We would like to think that, if we leave everything that is dear to us in order to follow Jesus, if needs be to the ends of the earth, then those we leave behind would at least do as much. Jesus is saying here that none of that is our concern. Our concern is obedience.
In I Corinthians 12 Paul lists various ways in which the ‘manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good’, then he says: “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each man, just as he determines”. In his infinite and sovereign wisdom God knows exactly what he is doing with his church! He knows what he is doing when he calls you to your ministry and me to mine. He knows what he is doing when he calls that woman to her particular form of discipleship, and that man to his. It is not only futile for us to concern ourselves with what is entirely God’s business, but it is sinful as well, because it is usually born of jealousy or fear. We are to be content with loving God, obeying him and trusting him.
Commenting on John 21:22 (and echoing I Corinthians 12) Bishop Lightfoot wrote: “The arrangement of the various parts in the whole body of the Church does not concern men. That rests with the divine will, and the divine will is unfolded in the course of life”. To ask too often the question: “Lord, what about him?” is to be deaf to the searching question that the Lord would put to us: “What about you?”
The fruit of love is a singleness of mind that does not look over the shoulder in curiosity about others, but which makes Jesus himself the focus of love, of worship and service.
Your brother in Christ,
PS We press on, in faith, with plans to hold Bible focus in-person this year. That will, of course, be subject to government regulations obtaining at the time But do not fear! Bible Focus will happen (God willing) either in person or via YouTube so do put the date (September 11th) in your diary and remember to book (essential this year, I’m afraid) on firstname.lastname@example.org