Peter: Clueless or Courageous?

Do you sometimes feel that you aren’t cut out to be a good Christian? Do you feel as though you mess up everything you try? Then take heart, because the chief apostle, Peter, probably felt some of the same things for a while.

It is pretty easy and typical for modern Christians to criticize or poke fun at Peter, who was originally known as Simon. They often remember Peter starting to sink while walking to Jesus on the water, failing to heal a boy possessed by an evil spirit, being rebuked by Jesus several times, falling asleep at Gethsemane, and denying Jesus three times before the crucifixion. Peter himself wept bitterly after realizing that he had betrayed Jesus’ trust.

You’ve made mistakes of your own. Perhaps they are pointed out to you—either by others or by yourself—so often that you feel completely torn down. Maybe you’ve been tempted to give up following Jesus because you don’t think you’ll ever be able to stay successful at it for long. But don’t you quit! Especially not before taking some courage from Peter’s story.

What many Christians fail to acknowledge about Peter is that many of his so-called failures were really some of Peter’s first attempts at fearless leadership. Did anyone else dare to get out of the boat and start walking on water or to ask Jesus such pointed questions? Were any of the other disciples able to do any better at casting the evil spirit from the boy or at staying awake in the garden? And when most of the disciples scattered after Jesus was taken by the elders of the Jews, did anyone besides Peter risk life and limb by sneaking into Jesus’ trial? Nope.

It’s been said that anyone who never fails isn’t living up to his or her potential. That is because growth requires doing things that we have never done before. In reality, those with the most “failures” to their names have made some of the most inspiring improvements in the world. Peter is one of history’s greatest examples of that.

Just think about it: in the space of three years, Simon transformed from a common fisherman who had barely heard Jesus preach into Peter, the chief disciple with stewardship over the entire Christian church. After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter led the other apostles in sharing their testimonies of Christ, healing in Christ’s name, and establishing Christ’s church in faraway cities. None of those were small feats. Peter was even led by God to begin allowing Gentiles to be baptized as Christians even though the only converts in the past had been from Judaism. It is difficult to imagine what the Bible—or the world—would be like if Simon had given up after making a few mistakes.

So the next time you wonder whether you’re making any progress despite your best efforts, take a moment to remember Peter. Despite his rough edges and slip-ups, Peter was one of Jesus’ most trusted disciples and friends. Thank heavens that, after his bitter weeping over his mistakes, Peter took strength from Christ and went back to work. God will be grateful when you do the same.

What Peter Did and What We Can Do
Left his fishing job to follow Jesus (Matt 4:20)–Make any necessary sacrifices to follow God
Walked on water and called to Jesus (Matt 14:29)–Trust Christ and reach out to him in our trials
Asked Jesus bold questions (Matt 18:21)–Ask God our questions and search for answers
Led the church after Jesus’ death (Acts 15:15-34)–Be a humble example of leadership to others
Testified fearlessly to Jewish leaders (Acts 27:10)–Share testimony without fearing others
Allowed Gentiles to be baptized (Acts 10:34, 47)–Do God’s will regardless of tradition and culture

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