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The following is an excerpt from the book In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Houwen. This is the first book we will be looking at as a part of our Covenant Church Leadership Cohort. You can find out more information about that learning cohort here.

The Question:  "Do You Love Me?"

Before Jesus commissioned Peter to be a shepherd he asked him, "Simon, son of Joh, do you love me more than these others do?" He asked him again, "Do you love me?" And a third time he asked, "Do you love me?" We have to hear that question as being central to all of our Christian ministry because it is the question that can allow us to be, at the same time, irrelevant and truly self-confident.

Look at Jesus. The world did not pay attention to him. He was crucified and put away. His message of love was rejected by a world in search of power, efficiency, and control. But there he was, appearing with wounds in his glorified body to a few friends who had eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand. This rejected, unknown, wounded Jesus imply asked, "Do you love me, do you really love me?" He whose only concern had been to announce the unconditional love of God had only one question to ask, "Do you love me?"

The question is not:  How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But:  Are you in love with Jesus? Perhaps another way of putting the question would be:  Do you know the incarnate God? In our world of loneliness and despair, there is an enormous need for men and women who know the heart of God, a heart that forgives, that cares, that reaches out and wants to heal. In that heart there is no suspicion, no vindictiveness, no resentment, and not a tinge of hatred. It is a heart that wants only to give love and receive love in response? It is a heart that suffers immensely because it sees the magnitude of human pain and the great resistance to trusting the heart of God who wants to offer consolation and hope.

As you ponder those words, I pray that you will truly move deeper into the heart of a God who loves you and invites you to know the deep joy of receiving that love and loving in return.