(Random thoughts for Sunday's Contemplative Service)
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Matthew 16:13-17, 21-23
One moment Peter is told that he has learned things that God has revealed to him, and the next moment he is called Satan and a stumbling block. That's quite a shift in one day! He gets things right, and he gets things wrong. He may be spending his days walking around Israel with the Son of God, but Peter is as human as the rest of us. Moments of transcendence, moments of self centeredness. All of this is the stuff of life and all of if is within Peter and is within us.
We all live at different places on this spectrum, often shifting as quickly as Peter does in this encounter. I'd love to live at one end of the spectrum, and ignore the other, but right and wrong, healthy and unhealthy, selfish and selfless, all live within me and I have the capacity to react to every encounter in multiple ways. On reflection I find that ways of responding that I thought were good, Godly, healthy and whole were actually being driven more by my own insecurities and selfishness. Sometimes what I label as selfishness is, upon reflection, self care.
Lent is an opportunity to reflect and surrender. How can we offer the whole spectrum of our humanity to God when we don't even like to admit parts of it exist?
I offer to God the real me, because that is the only me there is.
The work of God is to transform us from 'What is' into 'What can be'
When you reflect back on encounters you have had this past week how have you responded? Where do you see this spectrum at work in your life?