I am Peter

Jesus called them one by one — the apostles, that is. These 12 men would become his friends, his confidants, the men who would spend three years with Him trying to absorb all they could about the gospel.

One of the more “well known” apostles is Peter. The Bible records several details about him-  he was a fisherman (Matt 4:18), he was married (Matt 8:14), just to name a few. Peter spent a lot of time with Jesus. Peter also sinned against Jesus.

If I am being honest, when I was younger, reading about Peter got a big eye roll from me. It seemed like no matter how much time he spent with Jesus, the words he heard, the miracles he saw, were just never enough for him. His faith seemed weak, always needing to be corrected or reassured by Jesus.

The account of Peter denying Jesus (Matt 26:69-75) before He went to trial though got a combined reaction of eye roll and wincing from me. How could Peter deny knowing Jesus? After all they had been through? Peter was even told by Jesus that he would deny Him and Peter argued (Matt 26:34-35)! I don’t know about you, but a warning from Jesus that I was going to do something sinful would have put me on high alert. He was warned of his sin and he did it anyway! Unbelievable! Peter, Peter, Peter. I would shake my head.

This quarter (winter 2024), on Wednesday nights, we are studying the book It’s Not Rocket Science- Simple Ways to Reach the Lost by Benjamin Lee. This book is designed to teach the “how” in evangelism.

Every week, we have “homework”. Besides pre-reading the chapter for the week and answering questions, we are suppose to:

1. Pray about having and taking opportunities to speak to others about God

2. Read a chapter daily from one of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and write out what we learn about evangelism

3. Invite someone to church/Bible study.

Easy, peasy, right? As someone who loves to meet with new people and engage, number three was in my wheelhouse. Talking to people I don’t know is (strangely) something I enjoy doing. Something, dare I say, I am pretty good at. This would be so easy to do on a weekly basis. 

And then the weeks came. After Wednesday night class, it was like a timer went off and I went on high alert trying to find people and opportunities to talk about God before the next class started the following week. The first few weeks of trying to complete this exercise were a bust. I was so disappointed. It felt like I wasn’t meeting people where I could easily reference my faith in conversation, or plans to reconnect with friends I had previously mentioned the gospel to frizzled out. Why was this so hard? What was I doing wrong?

As my frustration mounted and my disappointment in myself grew, my eyes also became open to all of the past opportunities I had missed to talk to people about God. The times I had said, “I can’t make it on Wednesday night; I have a commitment” instead of “I can’t make it Wednesday night; I go to Bible class”. Or when I would call someone a “family friend” instead of “a friend I go to church with”. I realized in horror the many opportunities in the past I had been given to share my faith with people and all of the times I hadn’t taken those opportunities. I had denied Jesus time and time again. I was Peter.

Coming to this realization was a shock. I had often looked at Peter with a side eye. Like a reel playing back at me, I was no longer above Peter looking down at him; instead, I was standing next to him, in shame. I, too, have denied Jesus. My denials haven’t been recorded for the entire world to read and I know they exist. And God knows too. I have wasted moments I could have told people about the gospel, introduced them to Jesus. There were times I didn’t mention Jesus out of fear I would be rejected. Other times I missed a moment because I was in a hurry and didn’t want to get caught up in a conversation. I have lost opportunities because I didn’t see them as openings to start a discussion until it was too late. Truthfully I haven’t had open conversations with friends because I didn’t really think they would matter. They have their own ideas and faith systems. Why would they want to hear about mine?

Before reading this book, sharing my faith felt like it was this big complicated endeavor. So complicated, in fact, I was subconsciously waiting to do it until I was “ready” or “knew what I was doing” to share actively. This of course is a stall, a way for me to sit back in my warm comfortable blanket of denial. I had made sharing the gospel “rocket science” for myself, acting like it was too difficult for me to share and for others to comprehend. I was wrong. And it was time to change.

Going through this book and the suggested exercises helped me to realize the only way to become better at evangelism was to do it. Actively. To be praying about opportunities and to be looking for them- with my eyes, with my ears, with my “boots on the ground”, active in my community. It also gave me some compassion and grace for myself as I wrestled with guilt for the chances I had blown and hope for new ones. I have had some successful conversations this quarter and invited some to church. I have also had some misses – comments that fell flat or got awkward. The important part though is that I am out, doing my best to do the work- being the hands and feet of Jesus, as an old friend likes to say.

We have all been Peter. We have all denied Jesus. We are all sinful, broken people. The challenge is for us to see our brokenness and to change to be more like Jesus. We would love for you to learn more about Him and more about the church at Santa Clara. Come visit with us so we can grow and learn together!

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