I love my idealized self. The me that I imagine in my head is really amazing.

I have a far more difficult time loving the self who actually exists in the real world. The real me has weaknesses and flaws.

The story of Jesus shows us that God loves us, the real us, weak and flawed.

Tom Wright helped me see this in Jesus’ appearance to Peter in John 21:9-17, in ways that are not obvious in many of our English translations.

Setting of the Story: The smell of a charcoal fire burning was in the air as Jesus cooked breakfast. Peter had smelt a charcoal fire burning earlier in the Priests Courts where he had denied Jesus three times.

Jesus: Peter, do you love me?

Peter: Yes, Lord I am your friend.

Jesus: Feed my lambs.

Jesus: Peter, do you love me.

Peter: Lord, I am your friend.

Jesus: Feed my sheep.

Jesus: Peter, are you my friend?

Peter was grieved that he could not say more, and that Jesus had to adjust the question.

Peter: Lord, you know everything. You know that I am your friend.

Jesus: Feed my sheep.

A couple of observations on this story:

First, Jesus meets Peter where he is. Surely, both men would have preferred for Peter to say that he loved Jesus. He could not do it.  Jesus accepted what Peter could give.  Likewise, Jesus graciously meets us were we are.

Second, Jesus’ forgiveness comes in the form of a commission for Peter. That pattern still holds true today. We are forgiven and we are sent. All authentic ministry is rooted in the forgiving love of God.

May we learn to accept the love of the God who has taken our denials and our imperfections and has graciously dealt with them in Jesus.

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nt-wright

This morning I read one of the greatest quotes that I have read in some time.

This quote is from an interview with Bishop NT Wright about his view of justification (I know that I just lost some of you – but please stick with me!!!).

Wright clarifies that he does not deny the individual/ personal aspects of Christianity. However, he does feel the need to place them in the proper context. He uses the example of the earth orbiting around the sun.

We mustn’t make the mistake of thinking that everything that God does is just for the sake of little old me. We should rather realize that in biblical theology it is we who are circling round God; it is we who are in orbit around Him. God and God’s purpose for the whole creation are what matters, and we should be so lucky as to be caught up in orbit round God.

Let that statement, and that image, sit with you.

Who orbits whom?

True biblical faith certainly includes our personal individual healing, but the setting in which that takes place is with a God and a mission that are much bigger than any one of us.

I fear that we often place the individual at the center of the universe, and look for a god who will circle around us.

We often make ourselves the master, and we demand that a god serve us.

We need a faith that is worthy of the God that it presents. Yes, my personal rescue is something that only God could do. I can not overstate how grateful I am for that! However, as I read the biblical story, I am convinced that my rescue is only possible because of who God is and the larger rescue mission that God is on. In fact, I actually believe that my personal healing takes greater strides forward when I put it in the right context and join God in that larger mission – the healing of the world.

To read the entire NT Wright interview with Inter Varsity Press:
http://www.ivpress.com/title/ata/wright_qa.pdf

What do you think about this quote?