Simon Peter, Peter the Apostle, Cephas; the beloved, albeit “messy” disciple of Yeshua (Jesus). What do we know about him? He was one of the first disciples called, and he readily accepted the call. Yeshua changed Peter’s name to Cephas early on in their relationship, the name meaning “Rock” and upon the “Rock”, Yeshua would establish “Christianity”. Peter is representative of many of us. He had a profitable fishing business, a blue-collar-kind-of-guy, according to historical accounts, but his personality was brash, impulsive, strong-willed, and enthusiastic. Of the disciples, Peter is the one I identify with most because he was, well, messy.
I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I have a tendency to rush in where angels fear to tread, as the saying goes. Peter did that a lot, and yet he was one of Yeshua’s favorites. For all of his faults and foibles, Peter lived real. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to be in the same category as Peter; I certainly don’t think Yeshua favors me over others, but I do try to live real!
Each of the disciples, just like each one of us, brought with them unique personalities, and each had a unique relationship with Yeshua. Some we are more familiar with than others, but Yeshua had called each one into his ragtag band of followers because of their unique qualities that contributed to the whole. His disciples were from all walks of life; kind of like all of us, wouldn’t you say?
When I lived the “church” life I found it very difficult to fit in, though I really did try hard to be like everyone else in the congregation. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t fit in; I wasn’t like the other people that I tried to hang out with, attend church with, fellowship with, etc. Outwardly, I changed the way I looked and dressed, and talked, incorporating the “Christian-ese” that rolled off the tongues of others so easily, but it didn’t make me like the others. Don’t get me wrong, I am not being critical of them, I really did not understand what was wrong with me. I wore myself out trying to fit in and finally realized that was not going to happen. In my mind I was the one who was defective.
Life happens and I got mad at God, threw Him out with the bathwater and walked away; not because of being unable to fit in, just a whole bunch of other stuff. God had different plans for me than I had for myself however, and I decided in my magnanimous glory to give the Creator of the Universe another chance. How very righteous of me!
Since I had already traveled the traditional road, I decided to take a different route, and I started to look at those who hung with Yeshua. What I discovered is that He surrounded Himself with people like Peter, not with Pharisees and other synagogue leaders. Yeshua hung with prostitutes, tax collectors, women involved in adultery, lepers, and anyone else not part of the synagogue elite. That put a bit of a different spin on things, in my mind at least.
So back to Peter; I understood him better than the others. He didn’t have a filter, said what tripped across his brain cells without benefit of thinking his comments all the way through, the one who got out of the boat when clearly he was surrounded by water. Peter reacted instead of acted; acting being the wiser choice, but wise didn’t seem to be his forte, and yet he was the one Yeshua chose to call the “Rock”. Yeshua loved and trusted Peter in spite of all of his faults and foibles. Maybe there was hope for me after all.
And that is the lesson for many of us. Yeshua, clothed in the flesh of humanity, purposefully chose the Peters of the day to hang with and trust with His message of love. Christianity would have us believe that Yeshua hung with the less-than-churchy because we are the sinners, those who need a Savior, but the reality is that Yeshua knew the ones tangled up with following all the rules and setting themselves above everyone else were not going to accept Him.
Truth be told I have had deeper, more intense conversations about God in taverns, or with people who frequent taverns and not churches, than I have ever had in church. There are few pretenses surrounding the non-church crowd when talking about God. You, me, we, are accepted! We are loved, and we are trusted with God’s message of love to all people, not just those who try to be or appear to be righteous and acceptable. Are you a “Peter”? Yeshua purposefully chose Peter, and He has chosen you too…….