BYOF (Bring Your Own Faith)

Before Jesus was crucified, he told Peter that Peter would disown Jesus three times before the next morning.  Peter didn’t believe it.  (Matthew 26:33-35)

Sure enough, the prediction came true.  At Jesus’ trial, Peter denied being with Jesus three different times, when asked by three different people. (Matthew 26:69-75)  Immediately after the third denial, a rooster crowed – just as Jesus said it would.  That is when Peter remembered Jesus’ prediction.  Peter broke down and cried at the realization that he failed and betrayed Jesus.

Peter.  A disciple.  A man who stood in the very presence of Jesus, the Son of God.  If he was susceptible to this denial, what does that mean for us, who believe by faith alone, sight unseen?

Peter was faced with certain death if he admitted his association with Jesus.  He chose to save himself.  The thing is, Jesus could’ve saved himself, too.  He could have called upon God to destroy His tormentors and prove (once again) that He was the Christ.  But He didn’t.  Jesus knew He had to die as the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of His believers.

I’d like to say I wouldn’t have betrayed Jesus as Peter did, but I have to be honest – I can relate to him.  He had believed so strongly and yet, failed so miserably.  How horrifying it must have felt the moment he realized what he had done. 

There have been times when I have hidden my Christian beliefs to “fit in.”  I have felt remorse for being weak in the face of opposition.  I have shied away from opportunities to talk about Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  Like Peter, I have cried at my own lack of courage and absence of unwavering faith.

No, I don’t judge Peter.  I understand him…a little too well.

To me, Easter isn’t about colored eggs, chocolate bunnies and baskets of jelly beans.  I feel sadness for Jesus’ torture and execution, awe at his resurrection and gratefulness for his courageous sacrifice for me; a person who truly is not deserving. 

I ache for those who regard Jesus’ life and death as a myth or a fable.  I pray that one day their hearts will soften and melt away the layers of unbelief.

So it is with a heavy heart that I nibble the ears off my Dove chocolate bunny.  Somewhere in my subconscious I am aware that I cannot strengthen my fragile faith with milk chocolate sweetness, but I do it anyway.  This is the sick weak person that I am.

Can you relate to Peter (or my “chocolate therapy”) in any way? 

24 thoughts on “BYOF (Bring Your Own Faith)

  1. 1959duke April 24, 2011 / 7:08 AM

    Your right its easy to say that you wouldn’t have done what Peter did. But in our lives we do it everyday without thinking.

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 8:39 PM

      It would be a bad case of denial to claim we are stronger than that. Thank goodness we are forgiven 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 8:40 PM

      Thank you for the repost, Duke. I appreciate it 🙂

  2. carldagostino April 24, 2011 / 7:23 AM

    We betray Jesus when we continue to knowingly sin. We deny Him by not being a Christian example in our daily lives. Billy Graham preached the “Every time you deny the Christ, you recrucify Him.”

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 9:11 PM

      Yes, when we consciously make a choice to sin, we disappoint God. People are sinful, but rather than dwell on our shortcomings, I think it’s better to exercise reflection to identify our weaknesses, pray about it, and then make the effort to improve. The bigger problem is when we keep repeating the same sins without prayer, or any effort to change.

      Thanks for your visit and your thoughtful comment, Carl!

  3. Tim Weaver April 24, 2011 / 7:31 AM

    It’s easy to blame Peter and Judas for what happened, but wasn’t that all part of God’s plan? If so, can we really blame them?

    What would the outcome have been had Peter not denied Jesus, or Judas selling him out for his pieces of Silver?

    I have no idea.

    As for the milk chocolate bunny? Fail. Dark chocolate is SO much better.

    And I say this as a reformed Milk Chocolate aficionado. 🙂

    Happy Easter.

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 9:18 PM

      Of course everything that happened was part of God’s plan, but even so, it would still be awful to be in Peter’s position. Yes, it had to happen, but I imagine he would have preferred that someone else betray Jesus. I do feel bad for Judas, too, because he did feel remorse for his greed, but he couldn’t undo it. By taking his own life, I can only guess the grief of what he’d done was more than he could bear.

      I agree that dark chocolate is best, but I couldn’t find a Ghirardelli dark chocolate espresso bunny 🙂

  4. nrhatch April 24, 2011 / 9:13 AM

    I don’t regard the entirety of Jesus’s life and death as a myth or a fable, but I don’t regard the Biblical recounting or Christian teachings as entirely accurate either . . .

    If we look beyond the man, and the myth of Christianity, the true Christ emerges from the mists of time . . . The Third Jesus who knew himself as eternal and everlasting Spirit.

    When Jesus said I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light, he would not have been referring to his earthbound persona, Jesus of Nazareth, a role he would shortly be leaving behind. Nor would he have been speaking of the Christian church and its rather boastful claims.

    Rather than speaking of the mortal man, or the religious myth, Christ sought to remind us of the eternal and everlasting Spirit within.

    Not the Spirit within Him. The Spirit within us. All of us.

    If you’re interested:

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 9:45 PM

      Thanks for the link to your previous post, Nancy! The different churches and denominations put their own spin on what the scriptures say. I’m not educated on all of the differences or why Christianity has so many variations even though the teachings are supposed to be from the same book – the Bible.

      I’m not sold on the idea of my spirit within being my guide – I still believe the Holy Spirit (God) takes the lead. I’m new at delving into the Bible, so I may not be picking up on deeper meanings conveyed in John 14:6. Personally, I don’t think Jesus was referring to a spirit within us when He said “I am the way and the truth and the life” – I think He meant that believing in God was the way to get to Heaven.

      As always, I do appreciate your thoughtful contribution to this post. You have given me some things to think about as I continue my spiritual journey!

  5. Debbie April 24, 2011 / 12:48 PM

    Janna, I think you’ve hit on one of the hard things about being human — our weaknesses, our failures, our fears. Only God could forgive so completely, could heal so compassionately, could wipe the slate so clean! I’m right there with you in sympathizing with Peter. While I admire his passion, I cringe at his humanness. Perhaps Jesus was hoping we’d see ourselves in Peter and come to Him more fully. Happy Easter!

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 9:55 PM

      Debbie, I agree with your idea that Peter’s flaws would invite us ‘regular folk’ to come to Him. If the disciples never doubted or failed in any way, I may just give up and say, “wow, they were almost perfect. I could never do that.”

      Thanks for offering your thoughts. I hope you had a nice Easter, too 🙂

  6. Carol Ann Hoel April 24, 2011 / 2:51 PM

    I can relate to Peter and to your chocolate therapy. The wonderful truth is that forgiveness is as available to us as it was to Peter. Jesus made it possible by His obedience to the cross. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 9:59 PM

      It seems just by telling Peter that the betrayal would happen, Jesus was in effect saying that it was all part of the plan and Peter would be forgiven. Thanks for visiting today and sharing your thoughts, Carol!

  7. knotrune April 24, 2011 / 3:31 PM

    The difference between Peter and Judas is as much in how they were afterwards. Peter was repentant and returned to Jesus. Judas fell prey to despair and committed suicide. I wonder if he could have been forgiven had he asked? Or was he just damned?

    I’m sure that Peter’s weakness is there quite deliberately as an example for us to know that we can still be forgiven for weakness, can still come back to Jesus. I relate to that as much as anyone! But Peter was martyred later; he found the strength he had lacked earlier, maybe through the Holy Spirit after Pentecost.

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 10:04 PM

      Good questions, Knotrune! Judas did seem to be tortured by his betrayal of Jesus. I imagine that Judas could have had forgiveness if he asked, but of course we’ll never know…

      Peter is a good example of how we can become stronger after suffering from weakness. I’m certain that his faith and the Holy Spirit made him a stronger man.

  8. Patty April 24, 2011 / 5:27 PM

    I had a long discussion with an old friend and mentor yesterday. We talked about the betrayals of leaders within religious demoninations who preach how we should all be holy and follow rules and teachings. And then those leaders, who we have placed our trust in, betray us by sexually abusing children or having affairs. Or leaders change within churches and they change how everything is organized in the church. Then members leave because programs are discontinued, new leaders have different ideas and don’t take into consideration the feelings of it’s members.

    We must all remember that we are all sinners – church leaders included. We must remember that Jesus is our strength. He died for the sins of the world. He rose to give us hope to carry on.

    There are two quotes I have on my desk that I hold onto that help me during these times of trouble.

    “If you love Jesus, love the church. Do not be discouraged by the sins and failings of some of her members.” John Paul II 7-28-02

    “And be with us when we feel pressured to do bad things. Help us to be strong when evil is near. You are with us always. Amen. I believe.” (my version of the Our Father).

    Happy Easter

    • jannatwrites April 24, 2011 / 10:08 PM

      You are right, we have to remember we are all in the same boat. It just seems more disappointing when a ‘person of God’ falls – I know I hold them to a higher standard than the general population, which isn’t fair, now that I think about it.

      Thanks for sharing those quotes, Patty. I can see how you would derive strength from those words!

  9. Tori Nelson April 25, 2011 / 8:26 AM

    You have a beautiful and above all else, HONEST way with words. Thanks for making me think this morning!

    • jannatwrites April 25, 2011 / 7:54 PM

      Thank you for the sweet compliment, Tori. I appreciate it.

  10. crumbl April 25, 2011 / 12:07 PM

    Milk chocolate … naw, although I understand not being able to find the dark chocolate bunny. Doesn’t matter to me, regardless. LRHG buys me chocolate, then she eats it. I make no pretense of thinking anything chocolate coming into our house is for me.

    I could (as you well know of me by now, JT), go on and on about your theme … not the bunny.

    I have no problem with faith in a higher power, although I’m not prepared to renounce evolution … I’m sure there’s a reconciliation in there. I don’t believe that the “bible” is the literal word of God … how many versions of the bible in how many languages are extant, and we all know how things get lost in translation. I do believe that it contains certain wisdoms worth consideration. So does the Koran. So does the teaching of Buddha.

    If Peter repented and Judas committed suicide, wouldn’t the greater act of divine forgiveness to have been bringing Judas back to grace, rather than letting him commit a “mortal” sin? Perhaps the message of Peter’s repentance is that we may try our best and fail, and ideally learn from our mistakes and grow to be better people. What’s the message behind Judas’ suicide? As a benevolent and omniscient and all forgiving God, I’m out of the office right now. Eternal damnation awaits at the beep. Sucks to be you?

    As I said, I have no problem with faith and belief in a higher power, but I have no faith or belief in the institutions and people trying to sell me their version of the “true” word of God.

    Sorry, told you up front I’d go on and on. Actually, I was pretty restrained. Enjoy your bunny. 🙂

    • jannatwrites April 25, 2011 / 8:40 PM

      I agree with the possible message you presented regarding the example presented by Peter’s failure.

      I re-read Matthew 27:1-5. It said that Judas felt remorse and tried to give the money back, but the chief priests wouldn’t take it. Judas left and hanged himself. I didn’t see anything indicating that he asked the Lord for forgiveness. Maybe the message behind Judas’ fate is that if we choose to carry the burden of our sins alone, we might die in despair, but if we put our faith in the Lord, even our worst sins can be forgiven? I think that holds much more hope than believing Judas was sentenced to eternal damnation because of his sin. But then again, I’m a glass half full kind of gal (but you know that already, right?) 😉

      I agree that the meanings of specific words can be lost in translation because sometimes there are not exact translations of certain words between languages. However, I do believe the intent of the scriptures have been retained in many translations – that’s good enough for me.

      I’m glad you cared enough about the subject to offer your (restrained) point of view. I like comments that make me contemplate my views vs. alternates presented.

      By the way, the bunny was yummy, thanks!

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