LOVE AND LIKE ARE BOTH IMPORTANT
When Peter betrayed Jesus and three times he said that he did not know him, the Lord came to him and asked him if he loved (agapao) him. Peter said, “you know that I like you (phileo) .
Do you agapao me? “you know that I phileo you”
Do you even phileo me? Then Peter was grieved
OK, then feed my sheep.
I have experienced having a lot of people value my contribution to their lives and appreciate me. I have even had people love me, but over the years I have come to value being liked even more than being loved or appreciated. We can admire someone and then feel uncomfortable around them because of their different abilities or position and not enjoy hanging out with them. That leaves them lonely. We can really need someone and would feel lost and sad if they were gone yet. Still they need me tojust like being with them. Can you imagine, when my children were home, how I would feel if they ignored me all week and then approached me with a couple of songs of how great a father I was then said “Oh great father upon the couch, may we have some money please?” They could even keep their rooms clean as I had requested and help with the dishes unbidden and study hard, AND IT STILL WOULDN’T COUNT if they did not like to hang with me and share their lives with me.
I think that the greatest gift that we can give another person is just to like being with them, lighting up when we see them, give evidence that we were thinking about them and wanting to be with them even when we were apart, and mostly doing things with them, doing things to get to know them better doing things to bring them joy, doing things to build a bond of fellowship and memories.
When Jesus said “ feed my sheep” he was not telling Peter to go off and pay for his betrayal by doing penance and laboring for Jesus. No, he was seeking to heal the relationship by going sheep-feeding together and learn to like being together again.
When I see someone, I try to give them the gift of smiling and being happy to see them. My little grandchildren run up to me and are so glad to see me. I went to a church once where there was a sweet man with an IQ of about 80. He couldn’t read but he knew his hymns and he would sing the melody and I would sing the harmony and we would do duets. If I missed a Sunday the others would miss my body filling a pew but I could tell that he had actually missed ME. Maybe we should change our greetings from “hello how are you?” to “I SEE YOU”.
I have learned from this that it is not enough to worship the Lord and sense his power and how much I need him. It is not enough to go to him in need. It is not enough to do things FOR him. No, he wants me to like being with him, to cling to our love, our first intense focus on relationship, to be glad when they say, “let us go into the house of the Lord” , to prefer being his friend to all the treasures of the universe. To get all warm and fuzzy when I read his letters to me. To hold him precious and remember that I am precious to him too.