It’s a real pain, isn’t it?
Until you need it yourself.
I apologize to my nonfaith-based readers, for it seems all my writing is filtered through my faith. Please bear with me, and perhaps find something of value to take away from this subject even if you don’t believe in Jesus.
Most Christians know we must forgive.
What you know isn’t always what you’re good at.
We have examples of what it’s supposed to look like. Jesus on the cross, forgiving the thief at the very last moment, the two side by side in a struggle for their final breath. Soon after, Jesus cries out regarding the men who are crucifying him, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing!”
Those are intense moments that hammer in the burden of a Christ follower to consider all people as forgivable, even our enemies.
There is another story though, more subtle, more relatable, that gets to me every time.
The story of Peter and Jesus came to life for me one day while helping with the children during kids church. Our children’s pastor directed the kids in acting out the scene where Jesus is betrayed by Peter.
Watching this simple rendition of a long-known story, I learned for the first time about who betrayed Jesus. Of course, I knew that Peter had betrayed Jesus but who was Peter to Jesus? Until that moment I had always thought of it more as Peter betraying God. The story had settled into my life from Peter’s perspective.
It was the face of the little boy portraying Jesus in the skit that retold the story for me. His impromptu response, “But I thought we were friends,” reached into my heart. Jesus was betrayed by his friend. He was crushed by someone he was close to, someone who he trusted and loved deeply.
Why does this matter? I suppose because I can KNOW that Jesus understands those very human emotions, hurts and wounds. Somehow it comforts me.
The skit went on to show Peter and Jesus meeting up by the sea. Peter, acting as if everything was fine, the two sharing breakfast together.
Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me?" Peter replies with something like, "yes, of course" and then Jesus asks again, "Peter, do you love me?" and after Peter professes his great love Jesus asks one more time. "Peter, do you love me?"
I've heard many sermons on that threefold question to Peter, but that day in kids church I simply saw two friends. Jesus and Peter.
I saw Jesus asking his friend, "do you really love me?"
I'm a writer so it drives me mad that there is no record of Peter asking Jesus for forgiveness.
Just the two of them eating fish for breakfast after a total betrayal of trust.
What is recorded though is that Jesus not only forgave Peter but chose to build the Church on Peter's testimony and service.
What if we Christians were good at what we know?
SHARI TVRDIK is director of special projects and communication for Cup of Cold Water Ministries. From the four corners of your living room to the other side of the globe, the mission to live God’s love is always and everywhere.