Sunday, April 22, 2007

Peter or Paul?

I am quite sure that joke has been done before .
if it hasn't, I am a genius

I spent this Easter reading a study of the 2nd letter of Peter, in which he outlines the path to knowing Christ in a sort of 8-step program of building blocks:

...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Spoken by one who knew him well -- perhaps best -- it seems a trustworthy plan.

Contemporary scholarship proposes that the letter was actually written in the year 150, when Peter would have been old by even Biblical standards... if he hadn't already been executed in middle-age. It's probably true, and a little sad, because I like thinking of Peter showing the wisdom of his experience, and the conviction of his heart -- sticking it a little to Paul, the intellectual interloper who showed up late at the Movement and somehow got to be the authority.

...when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. (Gal 2)

Snap. -eth.

But see it from Peter's point of view:

Local fisherman falls in with lay-minister who he does literally worship, even when asked not to. Jesus names him his manager, the one in charge to keep the servants fed when the time comes. But when it does, and it is bloody and real, and truly dangerous, he takes advantage of his tourist status to blend into the crowd.

Think of it this way, and you can see his repentance in the list he makes...goodness, self control, brotherly love. shoulda..woulda..coulda... Just a guy trying to make it work. "I too am a man."
I read this letter as if from Peter himself, warning me that one of the hard lessons of humility is not thinking that it shouldn't happen to you.

Because most days I know that I am Paul. Not "fell down in the road, personally called" Paul, but "listen, do it my way, I know what I am talking about" Paul. "You Gentiles listen to me!" Paul. (Acts 13) The kind of guy who really would stand up in Antioch and tell Jesus' best friend he was doing it wrong.

Then write to 12 other people about it.

So this is a new mantra. It helps when I can't fall asleep, or when I awaken at 4 in the morning, when the meeting goes on too long, when the struggle seems too hard, when I have to remember to love my enemy, because that doesn't come naturally....

brotherly kindness

Without that, none of the rest of it matters.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments Build Community! We thank you for yours. Spam comments are not welcome and will not be posted.