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Why Peter is My Best Friend

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We try to make friends with people who are like us. This is a dangerous business, as it can worsen our own problems, since our friendships often serve to justify within ourselves the issues for which we are not proud. “He does this too, so it can’t be that bad…right?”  When our friends are like us, they don’t judge us for being who we are. So far, so good? Right or wrong, this is our leaning.

That is why the Apostle Peter is my best friend. Well, at least my best friend in the Scriptures. David is a very close second, but Peter has to win. He is so much like me. I smile and have to hold back laughter as I read about the things he did. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe someone wrote this stuff down.

Peter was a well-to-do fisherman. He was a man’s man, if you know what I mean. He cursed, lost his temper, and got in a fight now and then. Oh, how that draws me in. He is the guy with whom you want to watch a football game. He is the guy you see on television, standing up and screaming at the ref.  He is the guy spilling his beer as he shouts in celebration after a touchdown. You get the point.

But these are not necessarily the qualities that put him in first place in my book. After all, I don’t curse, drink (much) beer, fight, or lose my temper . . . much. So why is he my guy? I am not sure, but I think this is it:  He always screws up. He lets people (including himself) down. He doesn’t have everything figured out, but he is passionate about what he thinks he knows. And here is the kicker.  Even though he falls on his face time and time again, he continues to dream big. Who does he think he is?

After all, isn’t this the guy who made the great confession? Wasn’t he the first to say Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God? When Jesus was telling his disciples that he must die, Peter was the one who had the gall to take the Son of God aside and rebuke him—the Son of God! Just who did Peter think he was? Well, he was passionate and impulsive. Yes, Jesus took him to the woodshed and called him Satan (something that must have eaten at Peter for the rest of his life), but Peter did not give up. This was also the one who, though he said he would die for Christ, denied him three times (and I know this ate at him forever). Broken and bruised, Christ took him by the hand and recommissioned him. Why? Who knows? This guy was a basket case. He was a reject. He could not finish what he started. He had big ambitions, but bigger fears.

But for some crazy, unnatural, ill-advised, and (to us) unwise reason, Christ choose him to be his right hand man. His right hand man! Peter. Peter, the fisherman. Peter, the denier. Peter, the idiot. Peter, the impulsive crazy man’s man who never fit the mold of a reverend, pastor, preacher, shepherd, priest, prophet, or bishop. I love it!

And don’t tell me that Peter was just this way before. Don’t tell me that he did not have the same issues after. Don’t tell me that he did not struggle with his impulsive, skeptical nature post-Holy-Spirit-inside-his-body. After all, ten years after Pentecost, he was still taking the long road around non-Jews, thinking he was better than they were. He told Cornelius, after a decade of being sealed with the Holy Spirit, that he would not dare eat with a Gentile. And what about that thing with Paul? Yeah, that one. The one that Luke failed to mention, but Paul let slip as he was banging away at the Galatians. Peter was still falling on his face. He could not help but relive old habits. He continued to hypocritically act as if he and the non-Jews were not friends when his Jewish buddies arrived at the party. He just kicked the non-Jews out and scarfed down a breath mint to cover the smell of the bacon he’d just been eating.

And yet, for some crazy reason, he was Christ’s right hand man. Christ continued to use him and use him greatly. Christ chose the most unlikely candidate to handle the most important task the world has ever known.

This is why I like Peter. I am the same. Perhaps, my issues are not exactly like Peter’s, but I can’t quit falling on my face. I can’t quit screwing it all up. I can’t quit doing stupid things. I can’t quit kicking myself, sticking my foot in my mouth, making stupid choices, and denying Christ. But you know what? Peter keeps telling me to get back up. He does not judge me, but he doesn’t let me sink too far.

Peter met his end on a cross upside down. How about that? He finally finished strong. After all that, he did it. Maybe, I will too.

Can you believe the wisdom and the love of Christ? Can you believe that he will use people like us? This is where that crazy ill-advised concept called “grace” comes in. I am so glad that all those stories of stupidity are recorded by God. They give me hope. Peter is my best friend because he gives me hope. I pray that his stories give you hope, as well.

13 Responses to “Why Peter is My Best Friend”

  1. These lines are taken from the Litany of St Peter. I thought you would appreciate these descriptions of him.

    Saint Peter, pray for us.
    Prince of the Apostles, pray for us.
    St. Peter, to whom were given the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, pray for us.
    St. Peter, so ardent for the glory of Christ, pray for us.
    St. Peter, whose heart was pierced with one look from Jesus, pray for us.
    St. Peter, who ceased not to grieve for having denied the Son of God, pray for us.
    St. Peter, whose cheeks were furrowed by a stream of tears which flowed to the end of thy life,
    pray for us.
    St. Peter; who cried out, “Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee,” pray for us.
    St. Peter, bound in chains for Christ, pray for us.
    St. Peter, delivered from prison by an Angel, pray for us.
    St. Peter, who rejoiced to suffer for Christ, pray for us.
    St. Peter, whose very shadow healed the sick, pray for us.
    St. Peter, whose voice even the dead obeyed, pray for us.
    St. Peter, that we may have a constant and mutual charity among ourselves, pray for us.
    That we may taste and see more and more how sweet is the Lord, pray for us.

  2. Thank you so much for this, I feel as if I can’t ever quite get my spiritual walk right. This gave me much hope this morning.

  3. great post

    “Can you believe the wisdom and the love of Christ? “

    See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1a

    we pray that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith and being rooted and established in love, we may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph 3:17-19

    Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Eph 3:20-21

  4. Peter also committed that theological faux pas at the Last Supper, telling Jesus not to wash his feet.

  5. Michael how do you know this?
    Peter met his end on a cross upside down.

  6. Hopefully there is a bit of Peter, that old crusty shepherd and real example therein, in all of us who seek to pastor and teach! (1 Peter 5: 1-4)

  7. Truth Unites... and Divides March 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

    I am Peter.

  8. Truth Unites... and Divides March 6, 2013 at 11:23 am

    “Don’t tell me that he did not have the same issues after. Don’t tell me that he did not struggle with his impulsive, skeptical nature post-Holy-Spirit-inside-his-body. After all, ten years after Pentecost, he was still taking the long road around non-Jews, thinking he was better than they were. He told Cornelius, after a decade of being sealed with the Holy Spirit, that he would not dare eat with a Gentile.”

    FWIW, I’ve seen Charismatics heavily emphasize this verse in conjunction with their “Full Gospel” teaching about the Holy Spirit: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is.” (2 Cor 5:17)

  9. Surely 2 Cor. 5: 17 is as the text itself indicates: ‘In Christ’ (forensic)… our legal or formal argumentation, as In Christ, and thus a “new creation”…noting verses 18 thru 21. (Verse 16 is important here too, not and nothing to do with the flesh! See too, Phil. 3: 16-19, etc.) We must always see the Pauline doctrine of both our position or standing ‘In Christ’, then too our “state”. And yes sometimes they touch very closely, but we still must separate “justification” and “sanctification”!

  10. not sure what you are saying Truth Unites… and Divides. seems you saying that verse is untrue? all I know to say is -please be careful- realize this, in the last days there will be those holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come. 2 Tim 3:5; Matt 12:32b

    Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. Eph 3:20-21

  11. Have you ever noticed that Jesus had three disciples that had a knack of ticking off the other nine? They are also willing to help Jesus out with their own ideas. One is willing to freely give Jesus advice and to correct Him when He is clearly “wrong,” while the other two consider themselves perfectly qualified for the #2 and #3 positions in the kingdom and to rain down fire on whoever disresepcts them and Him.

    It is they who He brings up into the mountain and who hear, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” But it would take them many years to understand, to fully hear. Even after the experience, Peter had a “great” idea to put by Jesus. Peter didn’t only have a problem with his bad ideas and behavior, but with his good intentioned ones as well. So, we also.

    But I wonder how many of us, far from home, would be so glad to hear someone speaking English, even if they did not hold to our values, that we might cut ourselves off from native speakers, unaware of the contexual implications?

    Peter should be a tonic for those who talk so much of the heroes of faith, blind to the truth that they were men and women just like us and that God had to get them back on the rails again and again. For some these references are easily overread, but for Moses, David, Elijah and Peter they are open books to be seen and read plainly. And they are so different, that it should give us hope for ourselves and thanksgiving if we have not been so openly exposed.

  12. Jim from Wisconsin March 8, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Margaret, it is in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Eusebius’ Church History, and in various other books of church history. Among scholars it is pretty commonly held to be true but there is a small amount of question whether it was Peter’s choice or not.

  13. Jim from Wisconsin,

    Actually, the earliest detailed record regarding Peter’s death by upside-down crucifixion is Acts of Peter, which records he was killed for convincing local politician’s wives to not have sex with their husbands (naturally upsetting the husbands to the point they ordered Peter’s death). Curiously the book indicates Peter initially fled the scene upon learning the death sentence, met Jesus who informed Peter that he (Jesus) was on the way to Rome to be crucified again, and then Peter returned to meet his own death.

    It also includes a rambling explanation by Peter as to why the upside-down crucifixion—apparently because Peter entered the world that way (birth), he wanted to leave the same way.

    I find most Christians happily embrace the “upside-down crucifixion” bit, but blithely ignore the reason for the death sentence (bad doctrine), the odd meeting of Jesus, dead fish coming back to life, and other marvelous acts within a mythological account.

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