Brother AJ recently brought us a powerful message. He focused on Christian character and on the reality of our walk and how it is far superior to any perceived reputation which is a mere shadow of our true selves.
It is God alone that knows who we are, and that needs to be the measure of our character. King Saul was an effective warrior, but a man-pleaser. God had given him clear instructions, but he saw his own way (and the ways of the people) as “the way to go.” The end result was that he was cut off from the very people he sought to please, and became distrustful of everyone.
Simon Peter is also a good case in point. He was the one at Caesarea Philippi that recognised Jesus’ divinity. But went on to question many of Jesus’ pronouncements with such phrases as “not so Lord.” He like Saul had his own agenda. His worldly character overshadowing his spiritual one. Fortunately for Peter, he was open to correction and even found pardon for his weaknesses.
This raises a question in John 21. After the resurrection Peter and some of the others had returned to Galilee. Peter says, “I’m going fishing.” This is very much debated as to its meaning. Has he gone home to see what will happen next, and just fancies a day of fishing? Or, has he once again despite the miracle of Easter returned to his own agenda? “Well, Jesus is gone, I might as well go back to my old job.” Remember, Peter had despite his assertion that he would always stand by Him, still denied knowing Jesus three times. But God sees our character, and knew Peter’s human frailty. Peter, is therefore, lifted up from any self-condemnation. After fishing, Peter has an encounter with Jesus. “5 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
This is a job Peter would spend the rest of his life from Pentecost on wards fulfilling. With forgiveness Simon Peter regained his Christian character. How about us? Are we ready to accept forgiveness for our self-will and embrace our spiritual character?