Mutual Affection

What do you want to watch on television tonight? “I don’t care.” What do you want for dinner? “I don’t care?” Do you want to go to church? “I don’t care.”

Have you noticed how many times a day we either say or hear the comment, “I don’t care?” From the mundane, to matters of importance, it seems like the common refrain of not caring is a new default. The word apathy in Latin is derived from a-pathos. Simply translated it means without passion. The opposite is a person who cares and who is a person of passion or who demonstrates affection. The affect adds to faith.

Peter writes, “make every effort to add to your faith mutual affection.” (2 Peter 1:7) Faith and mutual affection walk hand-in-hand. That makes sense. A person of faith is to love God and to love his or her neighbor. Yet apathy or ennui strike hard especially when we are tired.

Notice Peter says “make every effort.” Effort is not simply about making a good attempt. Effort is work and when coupled with faith effort is a good work made possible.

Following the crucifixion, the first words Peter utters is, “I’m going fishing.” (John 21:3) Loosely translated “I don’t care!” Being with Jesus hurts. At times, it leads to a cross. Not caring, or in Peter’s case going fishing, is like pulling down the shades. It is a way of dropping out. Then again, maybe Peter is thinking he has had enough. Perhaps, as a fisherman, he is considering going back to the good old days, to simpler times. He is returning to do what he does best. After all, who can blame him? His heart is broken. He has lost his passion; his desire to care.

According to scripture, “that night they caught nothing.” Peter and the disciples came up empty handed. It was night. It was dark and obviously hard to see the big picture. Their vision was impaired. At the time, what tomorrow may bring seems like more of today. Life was looking mundane at best, or tragic at worst.

Then, from the beach, a voice cries out: “Children, you have no fish, have you?” It is the voice of Jesus. The Risen Lord appears. The resurrection stands on faith. It is just after daybreak. In other words, the light of faith is starting to shine through. What comes next is mutual affection. It is philia a form of love that means to care.

Bread is broken. Jesus says three times, “Simon Peter, do you love me?” Perhaps it is a way of balancing the three denials Peter made at the crucifixion. Perhaps. It can be as well a sign that mutual affection takes effort. It takes more than a swim to shore. It is work. Loving God is the beginning of passion.

Here, around the fire with Jesus, the heart lights up and the fire in the belly burns. Jesus says to Peter “feed my sheep.” Go. Show mutual affection. For God’s sake, care. Granted, at times, it is the only work we can do but it can make a difference. All the difference in the world.

 

Image credit: Statue of Peter and Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, at the Church of the Primacy of Peter, Tabgha, Israel. Photo and permission by Robert Quaife.

 

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