Friday, July 4, 2014

Peter, a man of Contradictions

Jesus called the Apostle Peter his rock.  Peter contributed several books of writing to the New Testament canon.  He preached powerful sermons, documented in the historical book of Acts.  But was Peter a rock?  

Do you recall the late night, that very dark night when Jesus told his twelve disciples that he would be betrayed and killed by a close friend?  And indeed it quickly happened.  Police showed up and arrested Jesus, Judas the friend of Jesus helped the police find him.  Peter pulls a sword to defend his friend, but ended up hitting a slave in the ear.  You know that sounds like something I would do.  I mean with soldiers, temple police walking up to arrest his BFF, he probably wasn't going for the slave guy's ear. 

I often end a day in the Christian life very worried.  Thinking... I mean I know I'm saved thanks to Jesus Christ.  It's about what he did on the cross!  But man, I'm such an incredible screw up sometimes.  Just way out in left field, loud mouth, emotional, just a mess and-a-half.  I sin, I repent, I sin again, repent, oops, sinned again, and on and on.  And I get worried.  Because the scriptures, especially the words of Jesus in the Bible are stern.

John 3:3 Jesus replied, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again."

Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

Matthew 10:21-22 21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

See what I mean?  I think man, I'm nobody.  I'm so depressed and emotional all the time.  I hurt inside!  I can barely stand up straight I'm so tired sometimes.  How can I do this?  I've got so many issues, so many problems.  

But I'm reminded of Peter and who he was.  A man that was headed in the wrong direction, and then he encountered a new friend.  Then a man headed in two directions, way to the left, then way to the right, always falling off the road and missing the mark.  

I listened to a talk by A.W. Tozer on 1 Peter and he told it well, how Peter was so often double minded, a great apostle one moment, another moment rebuking his own Lord, pulling a sword defiantly at one moment, denying he even knew Jesus to several different people out of fear.  After Jesus' death on the cross he returned to his boat and gave up; started fishing again.  Jesus Christ came to him there as well. 

A rock?  Peter was all over the place, emotional, confusing, riddled with contradiction.  Just like me.  And just like you.  

When Peter screwed up once, did Jesus tell him to get lost?  No he didn't.  How about when Peter denied him three times?  Nope.  He still came to him again.  How about when Peter rebuked his own master, or when Peter abandoned the ministry, or when Peter failed to walk upon the water?  

Jesus Christ never gave up on him.  And Peter kept returning to his mission, he made so many mistakes yet he always came back renewed in the truth, determined to do better.  And the Lord was always there to welcome him into his arms, to guide him once again, to send him into ministry and to the nations.

Peter is me, and Peter is you.  We're flawed people, flawed Christians seeking a God we can hardly obey for a few moments.  Yet we keep trying, and he doesn't give up on us, or abandon us when we make mistakes.