Oh, Peter, not again!
Every time…every year…you deny Jesus?!
If I were Peter, I’d claim Jesus!
Would I? Do I?
Maybe I am Peter.
Oh no, I am Peter!
Every time I look the other way when I see someone in need.
Every time I fail to speak on my convictions for fear of what others may think or say.
Every time I choose not to act in love, but passively consent to popular judgment.
I deny Jesus. I am Peter.
Do you ever do the Peter thing? Do you ever miss an opportunity to speak up for the Jesus you know? Do you ever let a raging crowd silence you? Or stand quiet in the face of inconvenient inquiry from a stranger?
I do. I cower in the very moments I should be convicted. I walk away from situations thinking, “I wish I had said something.” I let the noise of zealots of every kind render me soundless because I fear the voice of little ol’ me won’t matter; or worse, speaking will cast the spotlight on me – talk about pressure! I look with annoyance at strangers who want to be all in-my-business, asking me who I know? And how I know them?
When the truth is, sometimes even now, I am often scared to admit that I know Jesus: scared of what that admission might mean for me; scared because admitting that I know Jesus might change the trajectory of my life.
The thing about Jesus is he doesn’t need me to defend him.
If Peter acknowledged his affiliation with Jesus, it probably would not have saved Jesus. I can’t save Jesus. And it’s a good thing he wasn’t counting on Peter, and is not counting on me to save him.
But when I admit my affiliation with Jesus, when I proclaim that Jesus is my homeboy, I get to live with integrity and open my life to experience God’s grace. That grace is the very reason Jesus gave his life – to give me true life.
So the least I could do is give Jesus a shout out!
When it gets hard to give Jesus a shout out; when it seems inconvenient, or like the least expedient thing that one could possibly do; when I feel like Peter, I pray the words of this poem by Maltbie Babcock.
Say not the days are evil – who’s to blame?
And fold the hands and acquiesce – O Shame!
Stand up, speak out, and bravely, in God’s name.
Be strong, be strong, be strong!
Image Caption: Two young women testify on behalf of immigration reform in the form of the Dream Act, at General Convention 2012