Wednesday, March 14, 2012

I Gave You Some Brave Powers

The other day, I took my 4 1/2 year old son ice skating for the first time.  After we were done, we sat and watched some kids practice hockey.  At one point I got startled because a puck hit the glass right in front of us.  I said "that scared me!"  My son put up his hand, pointed at me, made a noise, and then said "I gave you some brave powers".

Brave powers.  Who knew it was that easy to be brave?

I don't really think I am a brave person.  I don't like conflict or fighting and am happy to ignore them and shut down when those things happen.  I usually don't share what I really think and feel until I get to know people very well. I like to keep the peace and have everything be ok.

As I have read more blogs and started following people on Twitter and somewhat listen to political "conversations", I see that there are a lot of brave people out there willing to say what they think--good or bad.  Sometimes I read things and think "that's what I was thinking; why didn't I say it?"  (I also see so many overlapping topics that I wonder what on earth I am contributing to this whole blogging conversation thing, but that's a topic for a different day).

What is it that makes us hesitate to share what we really think and feel?  I think that it comes down to fear and insecurity.  We are afraid of what people will think about us or what judgments they will make about us.  If it is something regarding our faith, we are afraid that people will think it is not real or we are not a "True Christian".

I'm in good company, though, when it comes to being scared and insecure.

This morning, I was at a Bible study and we were discussing Luke 22:31-71.  In this section, Peter tells Jesus that he is "ready to go with [Jesus] to prison and to death!"  Jesus responds to him with "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me."  Jesus had an idea of what was coming; Peter did not.  When we come to the verses after Peter has done exactly what Jesus said he would do, we can feel the pain and despair in those words:
Then about an hour later still another kept insisting, "Surely this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean."  But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are talking about!" At that moment, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed.  The Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times."  And he went out and wept bitterly. --Luke 22:59-62
Can you imagine what Peter felt throughout all of this?  After seeing Jesus arrested in the dark of night and wondering what would happen, Peter followed behind at a distance, not wanting to get too close to the action, but wanting to see what would happen.  The text does not tell us what he was thinking or feeling; we can only guess.  Curiosity.  Fear.  Confusion.  Sadness at disappointing Jesus.  Can you imagine the look that Jesus gave Peter?  When their eyes met, what words silently passed between them?  "I told you so, Peter"?  "I didn't believe I could do that, Jesus.  Forgive me."?

I don't think that Peter intentionally and deliberately denied Jesus.  I think he was just scared about what could happen to him if he identified too closely with Jesus at that point.  He may have been the next one to be arrested.

And this is the same Peter who was the one to first bravely say that Jesus was the Messiah:
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say that I am?"  They answered, "John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen."  He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "The Messiah of God." --Luke 9:18-20
We might wonder how that can happen.  How can Peter go from announcing that Jesus is the Messiah to denying that he even knows him?  Yet there is hope for him.  Our text also tells us that Jesus says to Peter "I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."  (Luke 22: 32).

Peter may have been afraid and Peter may have been insecure, but those things do not mean that his faith failed.  He may have faltered, but Jesus knew he would come back and would be of encouragement to others.  He would be able to eventually have his "brave powers" return.

It's encouraging to read about Peter, isn't it?  Not to gloat about his failures, but to identify with them, to know that none of us are perfect followers of Jesus, but to know that when we falter, we can always return.

Do you feel afraid and insecure?  What helps you to overcome those fears and insecurities?  How do you get your "brave powers"?

No comments: