When we organized Hilton Avenue Community Church, we did more than just change our name. Along with the name change came a focus on three core values to define and guide us going forward:
Enjoy the Adventure of Faith
The first two core values are taken from the words of Jesus when He was asked which commandment was the greatest. He answered, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as your self.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22: 37-40 ESV). The third core value, also proclaimed by Jesus, comes from John 10:10: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (ESV).
On the first Sunday of January we set our attention on the Gospel of John, chapter 21, and the well-known dialogue between Jesus and Peter. Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Three times Peter responded in the affirmative. A reasonable curiosity from our point of view would be, “Why wasn’t one question from Jesus and one answer from Peter enough?”
There is far more to the story, but there were three themes that came out of this interchange between the Savior and his beloved disciple, Peter:
“Do you love me more than these?” Jesus asked. It’s obvious that loving God does bring us to places of self-examination. We talked about those areas of faith where our love for God is observable and measurable.
“Feed my lambs.” Loving God brings us to the place of self-sacrifice. We talked about the concessions loving God will require as we tend to the needs of others—we will nearly always have something others may desperately need.
“Feed my sheep.” Loving God brings us to the place of self-discipline—commitment to shepherding others and helping them find a path forward. At some level loving God is about a relentless commitment to bringing people to Christ—the love of our lives! We could find many more talking points about how our love for God touches our emotions, and ministers to us privately and personally. In other words, it is not observable and measurable. But for starters we looked to Jesus and saw what it takes to answer His question, “Do you love me?”