By Elisa Morgan
I like to think of myself as one who dwells on the mature side of life choices. You know, I would NEVER steal, hate, lie etc. After all, I've been a follower of Jesus for some - what - forty years? I remove my hand from the bag of chips. I zip my lips on a snide comment. I muster up the guts to apologize to my husband for the more-than-tacky comment I do let escape. Through this, that and the other kind of mess, I've learned to scoot over and make room for what Jesus wants.
Yup - that's me. I would NEVER...unless of course I would.
Same for Peter who swore his loyalty to Jesus one night in a garden: "Even if I have to die with you, I will NEVER disown you." (And by the way, all the other disciples said the same in Matthew 26:35.) Later that very night - in the wee hours where nothing good happens - Peter's "I would NEVER" becomes his "...unless of course I would."
Peter denied Christ. Not once. Not twice. Three times.
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I can remember my first jaw-dropping pass in this text in Matthew 26:69-75. What? Such a lack of self-censorship! What weenie faith! What fear. In the very guy who Jesus said would be the rock of his church. Loser.
Then flipping to John 21:15-25 where Jesus "restores" Peter, I'm stunned that somehow Jesus still thinks him leader-worthy. Even today, I go to the text expecting Jesus to wag his finger and pronounce Peter a screw up. Instead, Jesus invites Peter to believe that Jesus loves him - not once, not twice, but three times - and to demonstrate that Peter believes this by loving Jesus back.
In recent years, I've come to recognize - and embrace - the very real presence of my own "...unless of course I would" soul holes. I'm broken. I mess up. I sin. Even
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after walking with Jesus for nearly a lifetime. Over and over again.
And every time, Jesus invites me to believe that he loves me - and to demonstrate my belief in who he is and what he says by loving him back.
Elisa Morgan, MDiv, (www.elisamorgan.com) is the author of The Beauty of Broken: My Story, and Likely Yours Too, a speaker and the publisher of FullFill (www.fullfill.org).