I've spent a lot of time thinking about Peter's denial of Jesus, because I share that trait. Not that I've ever been in a position to publicly deny Jesus – this is, after all, a culture that values outward expressions of faith. I've never been in danger of persecution and, working so much in the church, not even of ostracism or being thought weird for having faith. But inwardly, I am able to deny what Jesus wants for me and to cheapen what he has done for me by seeking my own way.
I never really looked at Peter's denial as a denial of himself, of his true nature, who he was called and created to be. But that's exactly what it is. The one who so eagerly responds to Jesus, who gives up family and career to wander the countryside with his teacher, is not just denying Christ. In that moment a servant girl finds the heart of his weakness and he impulsively gives up the identity he has been forming in order to avoid what he thinks is a dangerous situation.
Jesus, of course, knows Peter's humanity. He names Peter's denial without judgment, without casting him away, though certainly with more than a little bit of sadness. Ultimately Jesus redeems Peter's failing, turning him into the core of his church and charging him with caring for his people. And scripture shows that Peter lives up to Jesus' faith in him. In Acts, in comparison with the very human, often clueless and rash disciple – a bit of a bumbler – Peter becomes a bold leader, an articulate and focused witness for his Master.
I feel that Jesus is bringing me, slowly and often against my nature, to a place where I am learning who I am in him. I pray that I can keep that focus, and move away from focusing on my own failings and start living into the faith Jesus has in me.