Monday, 7 July 2014

Solid as a rock?

It may or may not be more apparent by now that I have issues with St Paul. I'm sure at some point I'll go into those at great, uninteresting length. (In short - he was flawed, I am flawed, he rubs me up the wrong way when he's bossy, he did good stuff too, I forgive him.)

I do know there is great inspiration in his writing and his ministry, and while my conversion wasn't Damascene, it was a huge about-turn (and I'm bossy too) - so you'd think I'd identify more.

But actually I identify more with St Peter.

I know, I know. It's not really very humble to identify with saints. But remember St Peter and St Paul were sainted despite their flaws. And I think I love them more because of their flaws. (And I'm not just talking about 1 Peter 3.) So I lay my flaws right down at Peter's feet. Because:


Denial is a word so many of us are so familiar with in today's secular lexicon, it falls off the tongue without much thought. It's not just an action, or a state of mind, it's a place to be - IN Denial. It's somewhere to hide, to be ignorant of what's going on around us. The classic head in the sand, or self under the duvet moment.

All humans tend to be good at denial.

Many, if not all of us, are superbly skilled at denying God, too, if not as historically as St Peter did.

I've often felt a tremendous guilt about my wilderness years, when I thought I was doing it all by myself, and wasn't I the clever girl.

It wasn't until a sermon on The Prodigal Son took me completely unawares and I realised that God didn't mind, because in the end I came home, that I started to release that guilt. And also I rediscovered Peter.

Or I should say Simon, who when Jesus first called him, still had his doubts. ("Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything.") But obeyed regardless ("But because you say so, I will let down the nets." - Luke5:5.)

Simon who was then named by Jesus as Petros, Cephas, Peter - "the Rock of the church". The foundation stone on which the early church was based. I like to think that this wasn't just Jesus having faith, or expectation. Rather, it was prophesy. Because despite - or because of - Peter's humanness, his temper, and his very literal and vocal denials, he had great potential as a faith leader. Peter + the Holy Spirit = Greatness. It was a done deal.


Sort of makes me feel a little better about the way I ignored God as a young person.

(And OF COURSE the church I attended sporadically as a youngster where I felt as if
 questioning scripture and church teaching was looked down upon so much I pretty much ran out screaming - yes, it was dedicated to St Peter himself.)

And a bit less guilty for keeping my Christianity at the edge of my life once it was affirmed.

And drifting along, recognising in the numinosity that I was being compelled into Christian leadership myself, but trying it on, then letting it slide? Well, that was OK too - for a while.

But in the end, I got through the denial, and I hope to realise my potential - to be everything God knows I can be.

It's not about what others think. It's about my relationship to God. What I owe to him. What I owe to the Church. How I can and will take that forward.

And if I can achieve a single speck as much as the apostle named Simon Peter did, how great that will be.

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