Love Me

A black and white side portrait of an elderly gray haired caucasian man wearing a hearing aid on a black background

The last night of December, a man many years old settled down late in his bed. Not being one to celebrate the new year’s arrival with all kinds of raucous festivities and with individuals he had never seen before, or ever desired to see again, he had chosen to just reflect on the memories, good and bad, accumulated over the past year. He laid there thinking about his children and very numerous grandchildren, who repeatedly gave him much happiness, and a lot of exhaustion too! Then the loss of one son during a boating accident came to mind and how he was wrongly blamed for it. This was followed by the remembrance of his only daughter, who had been asphyxiated from the exhaust of a faulty generator, which struck him even harder. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he picked up an old photo album and looked at all of the pictures, recollecting things he had done for others.

The list seemed endless; in fact, he could not really think of a single area that he did not have a significant hand in assisting.

There was the serviceman’s committee, the Kiwanis, the church board, the food deliveries for the local senior center, fund raisers for the cancer association, efforts to keep several hometown companies out of bankruptcy, along with lives rescued while in the Coast Guard. The list seemed endless; in fact, he could not really think of a single area that he did not have a significant hand in assisting. His tears changed from those of sadness and grief at this point to ones of happiness.

A handful of very distant fireworks over a city skyline on a dark night

The hands of the clock went just past midnight as distant sounds of shouts and fireworks emanated all around. He put the album away, turned off the light, and slowly slipped into a deep, satisfying sleep. It wasn’t long before he began to dream that he was reminiscing about the past again. Yet this time, before he could finish, a stern voice thundered forth, “What have you done for Christ?”

He recalled all his community outreaches and generous donations to missions funds. He even remembered the day and hour he came forward to give up his sinful ways and be baptized. Suddenly the voice returned, asking more passionately, “What have you done for Christ?”

He sat straight up in bed, now fully awake, with that question still reverberating in his mind. “What have you done for Christ?” He looked at his wife, who was gently illuminated by moonlight streaming through the window, but he saw only her usual peaceful slumber that was seen on almost any night. Then he realized that the voice he had heard was obviously present solely in his mind. He started thinking about his faithful church attendance, along with all the hymns and choruses he knew by heart, the diligently memorized scriptures, and the church board he served on for decades. He recalled all his community outreaches and generous donations to missions funds. He even remembered the day and hour he came forward to give up his sinful ways and be baptized. Suddenly the voice returned, asking more passionately, “What have you done for Christ?”

The old man stared dumbfounded into the dark emptiness of the room. After intense deliberation, he cried aloud with a stammering voice, “Why, I’ve done nothing for Christ!” He quickly slipped out of his bed and into the hallway nearby, so as to avoid any disturbance. He paced around, his soul in agony over this revelation. His thoughts could not be swayed by anything else. For most of his long life, he had accomplished untold quantities of deeds and actions for others as well as himself. Now the realization struck him that not one of them really amounted to anything in God’s sight.

A photo of a sunlit room with a partial view of a dark couch and a person, mostly out of view, with a green shirt or jacket lying on it, colored pillows strewn on the floor, and a sliding glass door displaying an overexposed white sky in the background

The following morning found the man lying on a couch downstairs. Sunlight illuminated the room, filling it with pleasant warmth. Yet he felt none of it as he awoke and sat upright, distraught and disheveled. The question of the previous night prodded him like someone urging stubborn livestock along. Every time he thought of some effort that he could do to please God, it never seemed good enough.

Yet he could still hear a voice softly speaking a reply of two simple words: “Love Me.”

Finally, the man could take no more and with a sudden surge of energy he leaped up and ran outside into a nearby barn. “Dear Jesus, what can I possibly do for you that I have not already done?” he yelled out into the cold, empty space. “I go to church and even serve on its board. I read the Bible and sing and pray to You regularly, often with great eloquence. I give large sums of money to help others in need. What more do You want? What can I ever do that would please You?”  

Golden sunlight illuminating the horse stalls in a barn with an overexposed foggy forest seen through the barn's opening in the background

A long period followed of further desperate inquiry, both audible and silent. After many tears shed, the man eventually collapsed onto several bales of hay. The wind howled through the barn, causing a loud commotion. Yet he could still hear a voice softly speaking a reply of two simple words: “Love Me.”

There is nothing better that we could do for Christ than to sacrifice ourself for Him as He did for us. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).

We may do so much good for others in this world and even in church, but what have we done for Jesus? He willingly gave His life for us. He paid a debt He could not possibly owe. It was all out love for every person in the world—past, present, and future. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). This is what He desires of us in return—to love Him unselfishly with all our heart. There is nothing better that we could do for Christ than to sacrifice ourself for Him as He did for us. “We love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Year after year, we make all kinds of efforts to improve ourselves, with most ending in failure. Yet what have we done for Christ? When someone mocks and ridicules Him, do we stand up and take the ‘blow’ for Him? If we give to a good cause, does it benefit Him, or something else? Do we love Him so little that all we can think of is how to make ourself better? The more we love Him, the more we will want to do what pleases Him. The question remains: What have you done for Christ? This year, let’s resolve to simply do as He said: “Love Me.”

[Image credits: Featured image (when available) Günther Scheneider/pixabay; JD Mason/unsplash; Kurti411/pxhere; Kevin Menajang/pexels; Lee Ashby’pixabay]