Spiritual Formation Over A Lifetime: The Life of Peter

God always begins with us where we are; not where we wish we were. In Peter’s case, though he was a successful fisherman, that meant “uneducated and ordinary” (Acts 4.13). “Starting where we really are” is a core formational thought that explains much of the biblical narrative from: “Adam, where are you?” to the calling of Abraham and Jesus’ calling of the twelve and his various conversations with everyday people. But this is also a great promise: our starting point is not definitive. Movement – the direction of one’s movement, the end to which one is moving- is our focus in the formation of our souls into Christlikeness.

The Apostle Peter may be the shining example in the New Testament of one who started from a significantly confused, mixed, halting place—and who through transformation gained by following Jesus, became a founding father in the faith. In turn Peter could be humble, be told: “Get behind me, you have in mind the things of men,” be full of zeal for God, fiercely proclaim love for Jesus and also deny him.

In this series, we will discover what it might mean to give our whole selves to the whole process of spiritual formation as Peter described it (2 Peter 1: 5 – 11):

…make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter’s parting words in his last letter comprise our aim for this series: to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

John 19

Monday: John 19:1-16a
Tuesday: John 19:16b-24
Wednesday: John 19:25-30
Thursday: John 19:31-37
Friday: John 19:38-42

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1.    Pilate’s power is a received and temporal power. Jesus knows the opposite is true of God. How are we often formed by powers—politics, government, institutions, family, media—and then view the Lordship of Jesus through those lenses? Where is the tension in your life between the power of culture and the power of God?

2.    Jesus alone carries his cross, but dies in the company of two criminals. When he thirsts, his executioners give him some of their own cheap wine. The religious elite called Jesus “friend of sinners.” Have you considered where you stand in relation to those we call “sinners?” Do you stand far from them or side-by-side with them?

John 18

Monday: John 18:1-11
Tuesday: John 18:12-18
Wednesday: John 18:19-27
Thursday: John 18:28-32
Friday: John 18:33-40

REFLECTION QUESTIONS:
1.    Once Jesus is bound and taken away by the temple guard, the remaining disciples are left standing alone. Put yourself among them. What are the thoughts going through your mind? What do you think you might have lost?

2.    In this text Peter appears to move from reckless courage (attacking the high priest’s servant with a sword) to tentative fear (his three denials). What do you think accounts for the shift in his behavior? Why do you think it is significant that both of these things take place as Peter positions himself in close proximity to Jesus?

3.    When Jesus speaks of testifying and belonging to “the truth,” Pilate asks (probably in a rhetorical way), “What is truth?” Why do you think that no answer is provided to Pilate’s question? Does this say something to you about how you determine what is true in relationship to Jesus?