The Highest Thing

How much do we love Jesus?

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

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

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

You see, we’re all like Peter. Our love for Jesus does not soar to the heights of heaven with the kind of consistency we wish. He is not at all times the commanding focus of our minds, or the driving force of our hearts. 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.

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 and more, and spill out from and through us to fill all things in our lives.

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 our lives. Many of us are saying, like Peter, “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 pushes us to strive 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 upward prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?

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 (Eph. 3.20).

But we will only aspire to such abundance if we truly desire Jesus, if we love Him as He deserves. As long as 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, 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 just can’t get enough of Jesus, our hearts are beginning to 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, 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, and radiates from every aspect of our being. Truly, this is the highest thing.

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

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.

Learning to love in worship

Worship is the most important place to grow in loving Jesus. In our personal and corporate times of focusing on, adoring, and submitting to Him, we nurture our souls in love for the Lord. But what is worship? And how shall we worship the Lord to realize this “highest thing”? Our book, The Highest Thing, offers you an opportunity to understand the Biblical teaching about worship, and to guide you into more meaningful and loving worship of our Lord. Using a series of Biblical studies and meditations, The Highest Thing will help you make the most of all your worship times for growing in love for the Lord. Order your copy by clicking here.

Will you seek the Lord?
The Lord supports our work through the prayers and generous gifts of those who share our vision and are served by our ministry. As you seek Him in prayer, inquire whether He might be pleased to use you in this way. You can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction VT 05452. Thank you for prayerfully considering being part of this effort.

T. M. Moore
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All psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, 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. 

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