A Journey to Becoming a Woman of Faith

What the World Needs

There is a concept in the world of psychology called being “self aware”. This basically involves having an understanding of who we are. Our strengths, weaknesses, motivations and true nature. Without self-awareness, people can not change. This is a reality for everyone who needs to make a change in life whether it is losing weight, controlling finances, breaking an addiction…In fact, every 12 step program for breaking cycles of addictions begins with admitting you have a problem. When a person is not willing to admit the problem, transformation is virtually impossible. But, being self aware is not our human default. We are prone to see ourselves differently than we truly are and not recognizing our faults is a natural result of our fallen nature. 

All throughout the Bible we read about people who struggled with admitting their own shortcomings which is one of the reasons why I “know” that the Bible is true! Real people with real problems fill the pages of scripture to remind us that being human means we are not perfect and, in fact, we are lost and very much in need of a SAVIOR. 

One man, who struggled with self-awareness until he came face to face with the truth of his own weaknesses was the apostle Peter.  Peter, the beloved disciple, often just didn’t get it. During the three years Peter spent with Jesus, he had several moments when he was confronted by his own humanness. Each time, Jesus would remind him of his lack of faith, his doubt, his tendency to speak rashly, his inability to stay awake and pray, his humanness. But, perhaps the most profound moment of the raw reality of his brokenness is when he denies Jesus! Of course, Jesus warned him that he would do this, but his lack of self-awareness caused him to tell Jesus, “No,….I will never deny you!” Unfortunately, he did less than 24 hours later. This is just like us as humans. We are all prone to deny, to be unfaithful, inconsistent, selfish because we are all sinners, yet we struggle to face up to these realities and fall into a personal denial of who we really are. 

On the night that Peter denies Jesus, three times, he weeps. I am very confident that his crying was a deep, soulful brokenness where he came to the harsh realization of who he really was. He became very self aware at this moment, but this was the beginning of his transformation. In fact, Peter does not stay in a place of despair and self loathing, he moves past it as he encounters the risen Lord. I Corinthians 15:5 tells us that Peter was the first to see the risen Lord which was surely a life-changing moment for Peter. However, the most beautiful picture of Peter’s restoration comes a few weeks after the resurrection. 

Remember that during these 40 days after the resurrection, Jesus spends time with his disciples preparing them for their new mission: the propagation of the gospel to the ends of the earth! In one of these meetings, Jesus has a special time with Peter. 

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?[e]”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others[f] will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 

What an amazing time of redemption for Peter! For the three times he denied Jesus, he gets three times to affirm his commitment to Him!  As Jesus asks Peter if he loved Him three times, Peter responds with, “you know I love you”. Of course, Jesus is God and knows all things, so He DID know that Peter loved him, but the purpose of the questions were for Peter’s own self-examination. Jesus follows each question, with a command which forces Peter to confront the truth that if he loves Jesus, his love will be proven through obedience; there is action that should follow a proclamation of love. He had claimed to love Jesus before the crucifixion and yet when put in a position to prove it, he caved. Peter’s denial had revealed to him his own weakness- his humanness, and this self-awareness leads to a new commitment. 

Of all of the scenes during the final days before Jesus’ ascension, I think this one most resonates with me and most likely most of us.  You see, when I am being honest with myself; when I am being self-aware, I know I am much like Peter! I am quick to say, “not me Lord, I would never do that…”, but I know I am more than capable of failing Him. Over and over again, I hear myself say, “you know I love you Lord”, but I don’t always live this out in my actions and priorities!  I become so focused on my own agenda sometimes that I lose sight of His call.

As Peter spends time with Jesus on this day, he has an opportunity to reaffirm his commitment to the Lord, but he is also given some important marching orders. You see, Peter will be the leader in just a few days from now of a group of Spirit-filled Jesus followers; he, along with the other disciples,  will be the leader of a new movement called the CHURCH, so today is a sort of commissioning service for Peter. Jesus gives him very clear instructions.

If you love me, feed my lambs. 

If you love me, take care of my sheep. 

If you love me, then feed my sheep! 

Jesus was calling Peter to put his love to action and lead the new believers who would soon be under his care. As he restores Peter in the presence of the other disciples he is confirming his calling on Peter’s life and setting him up to be the leader. 

As a leader, though,  He will need Jesus’ final and most important command:“follow me”.  When Jesus first called Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, He said “follow me”, and Peter did for three years. But, when Jesus went to the cross, Peter did NOT follow him! Instead he denied Him and ran and hid. This last call was a reminder that following Him is the call of every disciple.  In fact, Jesus stresses to Peter that NO MATTER WHAT anyone else does, “YOU, FOLLOW ME!”  (vs. 22) 

Before Peter could be a leader, he had to own his own brokenness but also recommit to the call to follow Jesus. This call would lead him to persecution, prison and eventually his own crucifixion, but his encounter with Jesus this day fortified and solidified the truth that anything less than total surrender to His Lord was unacceptable. His commitment to Jesus from this point forward is immovable. 

I think this story of Peter has two main takeaways for us. First, just as Peter was forced to do, have you come to grips with your own brokenness? Are you self aware, recognizing that as a human, you are not perfect and even are deeply flawed? Do you see yourself as you really are, a sinner in need of a savior? Second, do you understand that Jesus is calling you to commit yourself to the calling of a disciple. You may not be called to lead the church, but you are called to lead others to Jesus. Every person who calls himself or herself a follower of Jesus, is called to focus only on one thing, Jesus, and making Him known to the lost world around us. We are called to live lives that are not consumed by fear, worry or our own agenda but are lives that are motivated by faith. In the current state of the world we are living in, we can become so distracted by the pandemic that we miss the call to live lives that are dynamic. 

We are called, like Peter, to first and foremost follow Him wherever that takes us! May we recommit ourselves to the call to be a disciple who follows Jesus and leads others to Him. The goal is really not self-awareness but rather self-denial: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” What the world needs is not people who have it all figured out, but authentic, Jesus- focused followers! Will you answer the call?

Read: Matthew 26:34-35, Mark 14:30-31, Luke 22:34, John 13:38, Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:55-60, John 18:16-27 and John 21 

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