Posted by: baptistthinker | June 22, 2010

Do You Love Me?

Last night before bed, I flipped through the latest Tabletalk Magazine that came in the mail. In the back, there was an article titled “Tevje Needed To Know”. If you’re a fan of the movie “Fiddler On The Roof“, the name Tevje means something to you. Tevje was the lead character in the movie, which primarily focuses on his family in his small village. The author of this article, Joel Belz, focuses on one point of the movie. Tevje, on learning that one of his daughters is interested in marrying for love, rather than an arranged marriage, asks his wife “Do you love me?” Golde responds with essentially ‘for 25 years I’ve kept your house, raised your children, milked the cows, after 25 years why talk about love”? But Tevje pushes more, that wasn’t enough to satisfy him. He wanted to know if she loved him.

The author of this article then points to John 21, where Jesus asked Peter “Do you love me?” Peter responded “Well you know I do Lord”, trying to avoid actually answering question. Just like Golde, his first response was to avoid the question. But that didn’t satisfy the Lord, even though He knew what was in Peter’s heart. He pushed again, asking the same question.

The author of this article then says “All of us need to keep hearing Jesus asking His penetrating question. Especially those of us who have been blessed to grow up and spend most of our lives in a secure setting of sound theology, sound doctrine, sound preaching, sound teaching, and sound worldview need to hear Jesus asking us: “Apart from all that, do you love me?”(Tabletalk July 2010 pp 76)

We, as fallen, sinful humans, have great potential to spend our lives with a God-centered worldview, but miss out on being in love with the God who is the focus of that view. Maybe we have our doctrine right, and our theological ducks are lined up in a row, but do we love Christ? It is so easy for us to substitute something else for our God, even something that in it’s right place is good and proper. Far too quickly, we find ourselves so focused on the Bible, or on sound teaching, or on working in Sunday School, or on doing good deeds, that we identify with them instead of with the Savior.

The author goes on to say “This is precisely where the picture of marriage – and the hints from Fiddler – are so apt. Just as the answer for Golde wasn’t to quit milking the cows and doing the laundry, the answer for us is never in forfeiting the externals or in discarding all those true abstractions we’ve been blessed to know about our great God. The answer is not in becoming pietists who disdain God’s creation and know-nothings who scorn sound thinking.
The answer instead is the perpetual reminder that any successful relationship between a man and a woman depends on that mystical balance between romance on the one hand and mundane action on the other. The man is a dolt who supposes he need not do nothing more than bring home a paycheck and faithfully take out the garbage on Wednesday mornings. And the woman who never kisses her husband unexpectedly behind the ear should fully expect that he is muttering under his breath, “Do you love me?”
All this is not a forced illustration. It was God Himself who invented the idea that marriage is a picture of His own relationship with us.”(Tabletalk July 2010 pp77)

In other words, the answer is not to stop studying sound doctrine and theology, it’s not to stop helping the poor and the broken. The answer is to not let those things become idols. Helping others is commanded. Having sound doctrine is necessary to be able to truly help others. But above all that, we need to have a loving relationship with our God. Because without that relationship, we cannot love others in a way that brings hope and truth to them. We cannot bring them true love. We so often let our good deeds or our good theology become barriers to a true relationship with Christ. And so we should not wonder when we hear a tugging at our heart strings, the voice of the Lover of our souls whispering “Do you love me?”

Do you love Him? Do I love Him? Think about it.


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