Motivational Monday, This Is NOT Your Life

Posted on April 16, 2012


John 21:17-23

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

   Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said,“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

*************************************

I’ve always been confused by that statement, “If I want him to remain alive until I return”.  Why does Jesus say this?  There are a few explanations out there.  It may have to do with the fact that all the disciples were martyred except for John, the author of this gospel, who was instead exiled to the Isle of Patmos.  And so in some sense, it’s as if Jesus is alluding to the fact that John would be alive when all the other disciples had died.  Also, most people of that time period believed that Jesus’ return was imminent, meaning it was going to happen within one generation of Jesus’ resurrection.  And so in that chronological context, the idea of John remaining alive until Jesus’ return wasn’t that big of a deal, because that return was not far off.  But despite those explanations, there is no doubt a certain mysteriousness to what Jesus says here.

And unfortunately, that mysteriousness takes away from the greater point that Jesus is trying to make here, one that has enormous application in our lives.

There always had been tension between the disciples.  They often jostled one another for better position under Jesus, a dynamic that is clearly demonstrated throughout the gospels.  And everyone knew that John held a special place in Jesus’ heart, and I’m sure that others resented it.  I know I would have.  And that dynamic dies hard, even after the resurrection.  You see, in this account, Peter is being restored from his betrayal on Good Friday (or Thursday, depending on how you understand that event).  He is being forgiven and reinstated, and given a sobering picture of what his life will look like as the father of the early church.  Jesus completes this amazing reinstatement with the words, “Follow me.”  An awesome moment of true restoration!

But in the next breath, Peter looks at John, the beloved disciple, and asks, “Well…what about him?  What about John?  What will he be doing, what is his path?”  It’s unknown whether Peter asks this out of curiosity or perhaps a lingering competitiveness, but the point is that he does ask.  Jesus has just given Peter an intensely personal reinstatement and command to follow, but it’s almost as if Peter isn’t listening, and instead is focused on what John will be doing!  And Jesus responds, rather pointedly, “What is that to you?  You must follow me.”

I think that is a rebuke that we all should take to heart.

I have an amazing life: a wonderful wife, beautiful children, a house, and my health.  But I have to confess that I feel more than a little envy on occasion.  I look at the life of this or that person, and wonder why such success has evaded me.  Why is their church flourishing, while mine floundered?  Why was their book picked up so quickly by a publisher, while mine languishes in complete anonymity?  I spend unhealthy amounts of time focused not on the path that God has set me upon, but the path that others have, and that I wish I could have instead.  And nothing good comes out of this attitude because whenever I focus on the calling of other people, I feel inadequate, under appreciated, ineffective, and unfulfilled.  In the darker recesses of my mind and heart, I lament, “What about _______?  Why does my life not look like his?”

And the answer, quite simply, is that their life is not mine, and mine is not their’s.  My context and calling in God is unique.  He has given me a particular story to live out and path to tread.  My calling is not to love another person’s family, but my own.  My path is not to pastor the exact same church the exact same way that another person does, but to pastor the church God calls me to, in the unique way that God has gifted me.  Perhaps fame would be bad for me, and threaten what I love most.  Perhaps God took away my church because He had other things in store for me and my family.  Instead of coveting the story that God has given others, I should be relishing the one that I have been given, and figuring out ways to make my own story the fullest that it can be.  And in those rare moments in which I am able to live my life this way, not focused on others, but enjoying where I am and where I am going, I always feel greater peace and joy.

This is a dangerously pervasive dynamic in modern life, made all the more difficult by the innumerable means we have to keep tabs on others and compare/quantify our lives.  “That guy has THAT many Twitter followers, but only follows four people?”  “Wow, her Facebook pics of her children or husband or house or car make me feel envious.”  “What the…he married HER?  Way out of his league!”  Instead of keeping our eyes on the path laid before us, we are constantly looking to the left and the right, peering over digital hedges, wondering why the grass always seems greener on the other side.

But the concept of greener grass is not a Godly one.  The greenest path is the path that God gives you to tread because it is borne out of  His wisdom and knowledge of the unique way in which you are created.  Every person’s path will enjoy unique blessings, and experience equally unique hardship.  And we should focus on living the story we are given, instead of the one we wish we had received.  Remember Jesus’ words:

“What is that to you?  You must follow me.”

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Tagged: , ,
Posted in: Devotionals
7 Responses “Motivational Monday, This Is NOT Your Life” →
  1. Awesome and well said. This is a struggle for me as well and I like how you frame it in terms of a story – that we each have a unique story and we should try to live it to the fullest – I hadn’t heard it put that way before and it’s helpful for me. We should also try to tell that story too – just as you are doing.


    • peterwchin

      April 17, 2012

      Thanks Yeora! It’s funny how enviable our stories seem to everyone but ourselves!!

  2. The green grass syndrome is both persuasive and perverse. It’s hard to avoid, but it robs us of the ability to truly “joy in the Lord” and holds us back, causing us to fail to see what God has for us that is uniquely ours. As with any “syndrome” the cure begins with recognizing the illness and then working to heal it.


    • peterwchin

      April 17, 2012

      amen – and perhaps part of our treatment is also tearing ourselves away from the myriad means through which we fixate on the lives of others, and live so ignorant of our own!

  3. It is easy to want, when you see your self as having less. Jesus asks us to follow him. His example of loving others is a good guide, we can strive to achieve. It can be hard to do when we become so wrapped up in wanting, what we do not have. As humans the goal is to get all we can, at what ever cost, step on whoever we can. As Christians we should be willing to give at what ever cost. Often, we over look the things that cost so little. A kind word, a special moment for a spouse or significant other or some one we do not even know! I believe random (or rather unexpected) acts of kindness to others (that are not so random, because we plan them out) preformed out of love and kindness, even for those with more; can help us live more like Jesus wants us too. It also helps us keep perspective in our own life. Not that I always remember this, my self I must admit. We do have life abundantly in Christ, whether we have it in the things of the world; is one of perspective, But then…..what is most important?

    I struggle with this too, but my faith allows me to push on.


    • peterwchin

      April 17, 2012

      *sigh*, we all struggle so much with this, both those who have little and those who have much. i suppose that we should remember that whether we have a little or a lot in this world is nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord!


  4. jeffpan

    April 19, 2012

    “Instead of keeping our eyes on the path laid before us, we are constantly looking to the left and the right, peering over digital hedges, wondering why the grass always seems greener on the other side.”

    I love this quote! And I think the message is timely. Facebook and other social networking platforms definitely make it easier for us to envy those around us, which is why it’s all the more important for us to keep our eyes focused on Christ!

Motivational Monday, This Is NOT Your Life

Posted on April 16, 2012


John 21:17-23

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

   Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

   Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said,“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

*************************************

I’ve always been confused by that statement, “If I want him to remain alive until I return”.  Why does Jesus say this?  There are a few explanations out there.  It may have to do with the fact that all the disciples were martyred except for John, the author of this gospel, who was instead exiled to the Isle of Patmos.  And so in some sense, it’s as if Jesus is alluding to the fact that John would be alive when all the other disciples had died.  Also, most people of that time period believed that Jesus’ return was imminent, meaning it was going to happen within one generation of Jesus’ resurrection.  And so in that chronological context, the idea of John remaining alive until Jesus’ return wasn’t that big of a deal, because that return was not far off.  But despite those explanations, there is no doubt a certain mysteriousness to what Jesus says here. Read On…

Tagged: , ,
Posted in: Devotionals
7 Responses “Motivational Monday, This Is NOT Your Life” →
  1. Awesome and well said. This is a struggle for me as well and I like how you frame it in terms of a story – that we each have a unique story and we should try to live it to the fullest – I hadn’t heard it put that way before and it’s helpful for me. We should also try to tell that story too – just as you are doing.


    • peterwchin

      April 17, 2012

      Thanks Yeora! It’s funny how enviable our stories seem to everyone but ourselves!!

  2. The green grass syndrome is both persuasive and perverse. It’s hard to avoid, but it robs us of the ability to truly “joy in the Lord” and holds us back, causing us to fail to see what God has for us that is uniquely ours. As with any “syndrome” the cure begins with recognizing the illness and then working to heal it.


    • peterwchin

      April 17, 2012

      amen – and perhaps part of our treatment is also tearing ourselves away from the myriad means through which we fixate on the lives of others, and live so ignorant of our own!

  3. It is easy to want, when you see your self as having less. Jesus asks us to follow him. His example of loving others is a good guide, we can strive to achieve. It can be hard to do when we become so wrapped up in wanting, what we do not have. As humans the goal is to get all we can, at what ever cost, step on whoever we can. As Christians we should be willing to give at what ever cost. Often, we over look the things that cost so little. A kind word, a special moment for a spouse or significant other or some one we do not even know! I believe random (or rather unexpected) acts of kindness to others (that are not so random, because we plan them out) preformed out of love and kindness, even for those with more; can help us live more like Jesus wants us too. It also helps us keep perspective in our own life. Not that I always remember this, my self I must admit. We do have life abundantly in Christ, whether we have it in the things of the world; is one of perspective, But then…..what is most important?

    I struggle with this too, but my faith allows me to push on.


    • peterwchin

      April 17, 2012

      *sigh*, we all struggle so much with this, both those who have little and those who have much. i suppose that we should remember that whether we have a little or a lot in this world is nothing compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord!


  4. jeffpan

    April 19, 2012

    “Instead of keeping our eyes on the path laid before us, we are constantly looking to the left and the right, peering over digital hedges, wondering why the grass always seems greener on the other side.”

    I love this quote! And I think the message is timely. Facebook and other social networking platforms definitely make it easier for us to envy those around us, which is why it’s all the more important for us to keep our eyes focused on Christ!

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