Have you ever read the Bible and found similarities with the characters you see? I have. I love reading about Daniel – his wisdom, his discipline, his willingness to follow GOD no matter what it may cost him. I love reading about Joseph – resilient in the face of betrayal, steadfast during false accusations, and at the end – the tool God not only used to preserve the bloodline of Christ, but to save Israel from starvation. I love those guys and see character traits they have that I wish I had more of.
But the Bible Character I think I can best relate to is someone who’s known as much for his failures as he is his successes. Simon Peter. Here’s a guy who was one day a really bad example of what it meant to follow Christ, and another day, someone you and I could stand to be a whole lot more like. And, when you compare Peter with others in the Bible like Daniel, it’s hard to imagine two more polar-opposite followers of God.
While Daniel stood firm when he was under pressure, Peter always seemed to fold. In Daniel, we see a picture of someone who built upon his previous spiritual victories with another and another. In Peter, we see the opposite, where failure at one point seems to predict failure in another. And yet, Jesus chooses to call Peter the rock on whom he will build his church. How can that be?
I’m often guilty of keeping a ledger of my life. In one column are the things I suppose to be failures. They probably are, but that’s not for me to say because I don’t always know how God looks at those things. In the other column are the victories. The things I’ve done that make me feel as if I’ve succeeded. But again, that’s not for me to say because I don’t always know how God sees them. I think most of us can relate to Peter though. Particularly, his inconsistency, because that’s something most of us struggle with.
Peter’s life is one of fits and starts. Two steps forward, and often, three steps back. I can relate. One minute I can be spiritually as high as-a-kite, the next, so far away from God’s heart that I can’t even measure it.
Still, I think there are some important things we can learn from Peter’s inconsistency. Here are three that come to mind.
First, we don’t all grow the same. It’s not possible, or even Biblical for us to think that we can package or program the ways God matures us, and then suggest everyone fit that pattern. Second, growth takes place despite failure. I find comfort in that. Third, I can’t measure growth by outward appearances. If I do that, I’m forgetting that God looks at the heart. I’m also forgetting that spiritual growth comes because of wins and losses. As C.S. Lewis wrote: “Don’t judge a man by where he is, because you have no idea how far he has come.”
Where are you today?
Sr. Director of Donor Engagement, KSBJ