By: Staci Stallings
When we previously talked about transformation, I said that it means “change over time.” We also talked about what change is and why it comes about.
Today I want to examine the role that God plays in the transformation of our lives.
One fascinating thing I’ve been learning is how the Apostles I’ve always known and heard about did not start out the way they are often perceived now.
For example, when I think of Peter, I think of a strong leader. Someone who has it altogether and can lead a whole new movement that will literally change the world.
But here’s the thing… Peter wasn’t that guy when we first meet him. In fact, he’s really not that guy all the way until the Holy Spirit shows up at Pentecost. Let’s look at Peter’s track record to see what kind of guy he started out being.
First, he was a fisherman. He was not educated. He was very rough around the edges.
Although he would have glimpses of greatness “You are the Son of God,” he also had glimpses of condemnation “Get thee behind Me, Satan!”
I mean how many people do you know that can go from Jesus’ first to the last literally in three sentences? Okay. Maybe more of us than we’d like to admit.
Peter would sooner fight you than argue. Think about his actions in the Garden that night with Jesus. When the guards show up, Peter takes his sword out and cuts off… watch this now… the high priest’s SERVANT’S ear.
He didn’t fight the guards. He didn’t even fight the high priest. He didn’t go after Judas. He cut a guy’s ear off who was probably wondering what the point of all of this even was!
Why is this important? Because it shows that Peter was acting brave but he was actually a coward!
Acting on his own strength and wisdom, the best he could do was mess up and look like an idiot. (Sound familiar?!)
But the story from there gets much worse for Peter. After Jesus tells him to put his sword away, Peter follows the guards and Jesus all the way into Jerusalem to where they will have the trial of Jesus. However, Peter doesn’t go in. This man who was decrying that Jesus would be tried and said he would stand by him no matter what was reduced to slinking through the shadows in fear that he would be noticed.
In fact, when he got to the fire and someone did notice him, what did he do? He lied. VEHEMENTLY. “I swear I do not know the man.” That’s what we’re told, but just how stringently did Peter swear? How far did this coward go in protecting his own hide? How far would you go? How far have you gone?
Here, however, is where the story gets interesting because God did not leave Peter to his own devices. In fact, I now believe that God allowed Peter to go through these trials to show him how weak he really was. In the midst of all of this crisis, he came face-to-face with who he was without God. He realized that he was a man who in the face of danger ultimately would deny not just his friend, but God himself.
When you understand that about yourself, you get two things: On my own, I’m nothing, and without God, I’ll never make it.
THAT is when you change.
When you can finally face the fact that you are weak, that you need God, that God is your only option, then you change. Life changes. Everything changes!
So how does Peter’s story end? Well, the final chapters of his life’s new story begin with forgiveness as do yours. When Jesus comes back from the dead, He meets Peter and the others on the sea shore. They’ve been out fishing (Peter, having walked with the Son of God, decided to go back to his old way of life). Jesus first sends them back out and then He has a heart-to-heart talk with Peter.
It’s so funny because I can see Peter throughout this whole episode, head down, humbled to his knees because he is now face-to-face with his weakness and inadequacy. This man, whom Jesus had said He would build His church upon is as broken as they come. He’s let Jesus down in the worst way. He’s shown his true colors. How could Jesus ever forgive him for that?
And I can so see Jesus as well… fully knowing Peter, seeing his friend beaten down by his own failings, and loving him in spite of those failings. Still loving Peter for who he is… not for what he’s done or not done. Jesus takes a moment and sits down with his friend. Can you imagine that moment? Have you ever been in it? When you can’t hide who you are from Jesus any longer? When the truth is finally out? When you can’t put on an act of everything’s okay or I’m strong enough to do this on my own? I know I have. Repeatedly.
That’s why my heart breaks for Peter, and why the love Jesus extends to His friend brings tears to my eyes. Jesus looks at Peter softly. He doesn’t demand an apology. He doesn’t even mention the transgression. Instead, He simply asks, “Peter, do you love Me?”
Peter, beaten and broken by the club of his own weakness, jerks his head up. “Yes, Jesus. I love You!”
Jesus smiles softly, “Then feed My lambs.”
What a strange thing to say. But Jesus doesn’t stop there. Once again He says, “Peter, do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord. I love You.”
“Then feed My sheep.”
And again, Jesus asks, “Peter, do you love Me?”
“YES, Jesus! I love You!”
“Then feed My sheep.”
I’ve always “heard” Peter’s voice on that last one as annoyed and hurt, but what if it was more a realization? What if Peter finally understood that Jesus’ love and loving Jesus was all that mattered? Not the past. Not what went before. In fact, it had nothing at all to do with him at all… only about loving Jesus and accepting His love in return.
What a revelation!
But what about that whole “feeding My sheep” thing?
I believe Jesus was saying to Peter, “Look, you know now you can’t do this on your own, but I’m trusting you to let Me do this through you, can you do that? Can you let My love be enough in your life? If so, give to others what I have given to you.”
The cool thing is… He says the same thing to us. That’s how God will transform a life.
Lucky by: Staci Stallings
Now on Kindle and Nook!
One man. One woman. One night that changes everything.