I was in my mid-twenties, attending a business function in Kansas City, MO. I sat down for breakfast with several other women whom I had just met the day before. They were discussing a conversation that had taken place with another woman, mocking her for her “overzealous” religious beliefs. I sat quietly, eating my breakfast. One of the ladies at the table eventually looked at me and asked,
“Are you a Christian?”
I sheepishly replied that I was a Christian, but quickly added that I wasn’t overzealous about it.
I suppose they didn’t quite know how to respond to my answer, and the conversation quickly turned to another topic.
I wish I could say that I was immediately ashamed at my less-than-lukewarm answer, but I wasn’t. I just wasn’t far enough along on my walk with Christ, at that point in my life, to realize what I had done. In fact, I never gave it another thought until years later. Many years later.
Fast-forward to my late 40’s. I had been through what seemed like more than my share of trials by this time. My faith had been severely tested, and I had found God faithful to instill in me the strength to overcome each and every trial, every single time.
It wasn’t just the trials in my life that had strengthened my faith. I had grown in my walk with Christ by becoming serious about studying my Bible, by becoming more involved in a church that teaches the Bible, and by increasing my time spent in prayer. I had discovered that religion and a true relationship with Jesus were two very different things.
I was participating in a Bible study about the life of Peter, where we were discussing how Peter had denied Christ three times, just as Jesus predicted. One of the members of the study group, who had not yet come to accept Christ as her Savior, made a comment that stunned me; something to the point of her not blaming Peter for what he did. I found myself judging her in my mind, wondering how anyone could possibly think it would be acceptable to deny Christ, under any circumstances. That’s when it hit me, like a bullet to my chest.
My mind raced back more than 20 years, to that day when I sat at that table with those ladies. I was overcome with remorse. Maybe I hadn’t denied Christ, outright, but I sure didn’t answer in a way that glorified Christ as He deserved. God makes it very clear in scripture that He would prefer we be hot or cold toward Him, rather than lukewarm.
I was like Peter, but worse. At least Peter was fearing for his life when he denied Jesus. I was just worried about not being accepted by a few people whom I had just met, and would probably never see again! The thought brought me to tears, as I confessed my sin to God and asked for forgiveness.
Just as Jesus forgave Peter for denying Him, He also forgave me. He knows we are imperfect people and, yet, He loves us, still. He loves us so much that He died for us, to pay the price for the sins we commit. I am undeserving of such grace, but it is a gift I eagerly accept, for I am very much aware that I could never do it on my own.
I don’t profess to be exactly like Peter, for he endured many hardships in order to tell as many people as possible about Christ’s love for them, eventually sacrificing his own life. I have never given up the comforts in my life to go overseas as a missionary. To be honest, I’m a bit uncomfortable at the thought of posting this blog, for fear of those who might roll their eyes and mock me for my faith. But Peter loved Jesus dearly, and so do I. Peter felt great remorse for denying Christ, and so do I. Peter spent the rest of his life trying to make up for his sin, and so am I. I realize that anyone who might mock me, whether to my face or behind my back, regarding this post, would do so because they don’t have a relationship with Christ; they don’t know how it feels to be filled with the Holy Spirit. My prayer is that they will come to know and accept Him soon.
Scripture tells us that, when we repent of our sins, God forgives and remembers them no more. We no longer have to live with the guilt, for Christ has already paid the price for us. I am freed from my guilt, but I never want to completely forget what I did on that day, for it reminds me of how far I’ve come on my walk with Jesus, and His forgiveness and mercy encourages me to continue on the path, even when it is unpopular. I am excited to discover where He will lead me in the future.
I wish to be more like Peter in showing others my love for Christ and, more importantly, His love for us! I know I will never be as brave as Peter was, but God gives us all different gifts, and our job is simply to use our gifts, as best we can, to serve Him.
I am reminded of the lyrics from an old Amy Grant song, which I used to listen to over and over again:
“All I ever have to be is what You make me. Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan. As You daily recreate me, help me always keep in mind, that I only have to do what I can find. And all I ever have to be is what You make me.”