Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

The Highest Thing

Let us all love Jesus.

May our purpose be strong: to strive for what is fittest.
Let us all love Jesus, for this is the highest thing.

  - Oengus mac Oengobann, Feilire Oengusso, Irish, 9th century

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

  - John 21.17

Whenever we read this text of Jesus’ interview with Peter, we should feel sadness and shame.

For aren’t we all like Peter? Our love for Jesus does not soar to the heights of heaven with the kind of consistency we wish. If we’re honest, we might say that love for Jesus is not the highest thing in our lives. Not always, at any rate. He is not at all times the commanding focus of our minds, or the driving force of our hearts. We do not stand boldly for Him when we could, nor do we take up the works of self-denying love that so characterized Him. We are easily distracted, inclined to vain thoughts of self-importance, and certainly not wanting for areas where our sanctification is stalled, or has been put on hold. We know this is true.

And not only do we know it, Jesus knows it as well.

We can identify with Peter. If only we could sustain more love for Jesus, more of “the highest thing” in our hearts! Then surely Jesus would fill us more completely and spill out from and through us to fill all things in our lives (Eph. 4.8-10; Jn. 7.37-39).

Do we long for the highest thing to be true of us every moment? Jesus is asking us, every moment of every day, “Do you love Me?” and we are responding by the way we live. Many of us are saying, “Lord, You know I like You a lot.” We’re glad to be Christians. We like our church, read our Bibles, and even pray some. Jesus is just all right with us.

But do we long for there to be a burning in our souls that empowers us to break through this facade of piety and seek the highest thing with every ounce of strength we can muster, every conscious moment of our lives? Would we describe ourselves as pressing forward to attain the prize of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus?

Or has our faith become merely as good as we might expect?

The Christian faith is never as good as it gets. Exceedingly abundantly more than we’ve ever dared to ask or think always awaits us by the power of Him Who is at work within us (Eph. 3.20; Phil. 2.13).

But we will only aspire to such abundance if we truly desire Jesus, if we see Him in His glory and love Him as He deserves. If Jesus is just a good friend for when we need Him, we will never realize the full potential of our faith. Until He becomes the highest thing in every area and moment of our lives, the greatest and most compelling love of our life, we’ll always just be answering His query, “Lord, You know I like You a lot.”

We’re missing something by not being more passionate about Jesus. If we loved Him more, we would spend more intimate time with Him, in His Presence, where there is fullness of joy, and at His right hand, where there are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16.11). When we get to the place where we just can’t get enough of Jesus, then we will realize what it means to love Him as He loves us.

This is what we want, isn’t it? But the old sinful self drags his feet, ducks his duty, and says maybe he’ll do better tomorrow. Meanwhile, full, abundant, and fruitful life in Jesus continues to elude us.

The highest thing is to love Jesus, to love Him so much that He fills, controls, brightens, radiates, and overflows from every aspect of our being, in everything we do or say. Truly, this is the highest thing.

Let this be what we want. When Jesus asks us, “Do you love Me?” let us pray that we might honestly say, “Lord, I love You! This is what I want, this highest thing. So help me, Lord.”

For Reflection
1. Would you say that love for Jesus is the highest thing in your life? Why or why not?

2. How would you counsel a new believer always to be cultivating this highest thing?

Psalm 42.1-3, 6-8 (Nettleton: Come Thou Fount)
As the deer pants for fresh water, let my soul, Lord, pant for You!
Let my soul thirst as it ought to for the Savior, ever true!
Tears by day have been my portion, tears by night have been my food,
while my foes add to my sorrow, saying, “Where now is your God?”

Oh my God, my soul is weary, therefore I remember You.
Let Your grace and goodness near be, and Your promise, firm and true.
Lord, when trials and fears surround me, Your commands will be my song;
when distresses sore confound me, Your great love will keep me strong.

Help me, O Lord, to love You more, to love You as much as You love me, to love you so much that I…

Know Him, Love Him, Serve Him

Two books can help you in your desire to grow in the highest thing. To Know Him will help you to see Jesus and meditate on His beauty and love for you. Order your free copy by clicking here. Know, Love, Serve will help you set up a comprehensive plan for learning and growing in the highest thing. A free copy is available by clicking here.

Please prayerfully consider making a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe. Only God can move you to do this, and we believe He intends to support this ministry from within the ranks of those who are served by it. If this includes you, please seek the Lord in this matter. You can click here to donate online with your credit card or through PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore

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