Can I Measure Up?
Sometimes I look at other Christians and wonder if I’ll ever live up. So many have accomplished so much more for the Kingdom.
One of my seminary professors (who went on to become Bishop of the Rio Grande) advised us students: If reading the Bible for devotion gets flat for you, read the biographies of the great saints of the church.
Reading the biographies of the great saints of the church is a wonderful thing to do. A well written and researched telling of another’s life of service to God can be challenging, engrossing and motivating. And intimidating, humbling and frightening.
One of my favorites tells the life and work of German Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer*, who served during the ramp up to WWII and was finally hanged in a German concentration camp only 2 weeks before its liberation in 1945.
I’m going to talk a bit about Bonhoeffer on Sunday and compare his witness to Jesus’ conversation with Peter in John 21 (click here to read it) in which Jesus asks Peter three times “Do you love me?” and Peter struggles with his response, never actually giving the response Jesus sought. Yet Peter goes on to become one of the great leaders of the earliest church, honored by the Roman Catholic Church as the first pope. He appears to have been killed during the persecutions under Emperor Nero in the late 30s AD, so he served less then 20 years after Christ’s death.
It is quite certain that Peter was crucified and there is a long held belief that he requested to be crucified upside down as he was unworthy of the death by which Jesus died. If you ever see a cross shaped like an “X”, it is known as “Peter’s cross” for this reason.
Motivating as these accounts may be, how are us mere mortals to measure up? What does it mean for us to be all in for Jesus in our ordinary, utterly unspectacular lives?
This column appeared in the May 1, 2022 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
If you are reading this at a different time, you may click here for the current eNews.