Peter answered, 'Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you and to die with you!'
'I tell you, Peter,' Jesus said, 'the cock will not crow tonight until you have said three times that you do not know me.'”
The disciple Simon Peter was a man of great faith and bold action. The foundation of the Church as we know it, and the predecessor to Saul/Paul's writings and even their great conflict. But as readers of the New Testament know, his brash style sometimes led him to make humiliating mistakes. More than once, this disciple had to wear the label of "miserable failure" rather than that of "obedient servant." I know that I can relate to him. I relate to him much more than Pauline teachings on many subjects. I am brash. I am tempermmental. I would likely cut a soldier's ear off in the heat of the garden confrontation. I know I'm not alone. We can all relate when it comes to falling short of expectations. Obedience to God is a learning process, and failure is a part of our development as humble servants. When we yield to temptation or rebel against God's authority, we realize that sin has few rewards, and even those are fleeting.
Failure is an excellent learning tool, as Peter could certainly attest. Through trial and error, he discovered:
- Humility is required of ALL believers (John 13:5-14);
- God's ways are higher than the world's ways. Period. (Mark 8:33);
- One should never take their eyes off Jesus (Matt. 14:30).
God doesn't reward rebellion or wrongdoing; however, by His grace, He blesses those who choose repentance, and learn to retry until they get this "love everyone" thing down right. We can even learn to embrace correction and getting it right. We can embrace chastisement as a tool for growth. If you have mistreated people lately, spoken out of hate, instead of love, or even judged others because they are different. God can still use you, and you can still be reconciled back to God. Maybe you have used your standards as a witness instead of your actions, but don't worry Apostolic, God still loves you and God still wants to work through you to show the love of Jesus to people that need Him the most: the abused, the poor, the needy, and those that have been disenfranchised. Don't worry, Christian... just because you have gotten it wrong in fearing the world, and what you don't understand, doesn't mean you can't do better. We are called to not be OF the world, but we are definitely IN the world. Don't make the mistake of being so separate that you don't provide a view and connection to Christ. That's what you are there for. There's always a chance to do better. The particularly nice thing about those of us that have failed so spectacularly is that we are a forgiving, and sometimes even forgetting, people. We will most certainly forgive your failure and lack of love to those that God loves, and help you embrace the teachings of Christ to be kind to all, and love all, and share with all.
We would probably all prefer to grow in our faith without ever making a mistake before God's eyes, but we cannot deny that missteps are instructive. Failure teaches believers that it is much wiser and more profitable to be obedient to the Lord.
That's a lesson we all should take to heart.