Unlike friendships we often see in the movies, real life relationships are often forged in the crucible of adversity and while working together toward common goals and dreams. Whether it be raising spiritual children or ridding your community of an injustice, these are trials that create bonds that can lead to real transformation.
Peter and Jesus built such a bond. Their friendship was not one of smooth common interest. Instead, it was built on tough, emotional exchanges, high expectations and belief in spiritual comebacks.
Embrace Honest Emotional Exchanges
From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!”
Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
Jesus and Peter were not strangers to expressing deep emotion with each other. We can spend so much energy shielding, avoiding and denying emotions that may create conflict. Jesus and Peter embraced them. When we allow fear of conflict to keep us from facing emotions, the result is that our hearts detach. We slowly become apathetic and unable to bond deeply with others. Rather than face the people and situations we feel emotional about, we end up displacing that suppressed emotion on people and settings that do not really warrant it. Healthy trust, mercy and attachment are only possible when we let go of our fear and embrace emotionally honest exchanges.
Hold High Expectations
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep
Compromise is the enemy of a friendship which has a goal to have great impact. Jesus knew this, and so in one of his final conversations with Peter he risked the relationship by demanding that Peter take responsibility for how he’d hurt the friendship. Jesus expected him to devote himself to a life of love, instead of self protection. The irony about powerful friendships is that you have to risk them to strengthen them. If we don’t feel we have the trust and responsiveness of another person and are forced to compromise, then we are submitting ourselves to building an irrelevant friendship. To risk friendships, we have to be willing to say relationship truths that will cultivate a conscience in others. Despite the emotions created by these types of conversations, we maintain the high expectations necessary to do powerful things with our lives.
Believe In Comebacks
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.”
Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go to prison with you, and even to die with you.”
But Jesus said, “Peter, let me tell you something. Before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
Despite knowing that Peter would betray him in his most desperate time of need, Jesus found the faith to pray for Peter to make a comeback. Too often, in our friendships we take Satan’s sifting process personally, and cut off those who hurt us. Although Jesus was pained by Peter’s unfaithfulness, he recognized that the root of Peter’s betrayal was spiritual weakness that made him fall prey to Satan’s temptations. This perspective gave Jesus the faith to believe in Peter making a comeback. It’s easy to be someone’s friend when they are stable or succeeding. Friendship is tested when we are being sifted, or perhaps responding poorly during times of sifting. But the comeback stories of those who have friendships who believe in them are others what inspire others that they can experience similar comebacks.
The book of 1 Peter shows the tremendous impact of Jesus and Peter’s friendship. Peter, a man who was emotionally immature, humanistic and unfaithful, became a man who lived and preached a message of building loving friendships. Read 1 Peter and be inspired!