This is post is the first of a three part series I wrote on doubt, the reasons my generation leaves the church, and what can bring us back. Part two will be coming on Thursday, and Part Three on Saturday.
I am Peter. I am Peter in Luke 22 saying “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
I am Peter in Luke 22 screaming, “I am not one of them!”
I used to believe I would follow Jesus to the grave. That I had faith strong enough to do and believe whatever was required of me. That I, of all people, couldn’t possibly ever doubt God. Of course I’d have questions but doubt God? Never. I knew, after all, that God is the ultimate authority. Who was I to question what I couldn’t comprehend?
Until that wasn’t good enough anymore. Until logic caught up with belief. Until I couldn’t justify issues by telling myself God is God and if something seems unjust, unloving, unholy even, that was only because I had a flawed concept not a flawed God. Until I realized half the things I thought to be absolute truth just weren’t. Until I found myself saying internally and at times even aloud “I am not one of them.”
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly did have a flawed concept not a flawed God. God was still inherently perfect. I was still inherently imperfect. But the god I was seeing wasn’t perfect. And as such, the god I was seeing wasn’t truly God.
When I read through the whole bible my first semester of college, I realized a few things, the most important of which is that God is like Jesus. That Jesus and God are not separate entities with entirely different motives. Jesus is not the love aspect of the trinity, and God the justice aspect. It doesn’t work like that. And if Jesus is the essence of God, then Yahweh must look like Jesus, act with the same motives as Jesus, love like Jesus loved.
Jesus prayed for Peter. He knew, despite the well-intentioned and even sincere statements Peter made, that inside the future Peter couldn’t see or plan for, there would be denial. There would be Peter saying “I do not know Him… I am not one of them.” Jesus knew.
We should be wary of how we look at our faith. If you see yourself as being above doubt, you’re probably not seeing things realistically. Nobody is above doubt. Not even the disciple who walked with Jesus, talked with Him, learned from Him, sincerely loved Him. Even that man, when confronted by his stormy surroundings, doubted the strength of the physical incarnation of God himself. Even that man was afraid when he saw the wind and waves. Even that man, though he loved deeply, sank just as deeply, denied and fell.
I am Peter.
And in Luke 22, Jesus prays for Peter and says, “when you have returned, strengthen your brothers.”
Not “if you return.” “When you return.”
Jesus knew Peter would deny him. He also knew Peter would return. Jesus knows I will doubt too. He knows my faith is small, and I have a hard time knowing anything with any real certainty. Jesus knows, allows me to walk through my doubt, fall into my waves, and through that, whispers, “When you have returned, strengthen your brothers.”
I am Peter. And Jesus knew I would return.