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.

Season of Easter Readings: Sunday, May 4

Readings:  1 Peter 1:17-23 and John Luke 24:13-35

Reflection Questions:

  • From our previous reading in the Peter’s letter (1:3-9) we’ve been reminded that we are born again to a living hope because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  In other words, we have been ushered into a new kind of life with new focus, future, family identity and inheritance. In verses 1:17-19, Peter reminds us of the cost of our new lives in Christ. Take a few moments to reflect on the cost of this holy transaction. What rises in your heart, what thoughts occur to you as a response to the way you were redeemed?  Offer to God words, expressions of that response.
  • How might your life become a living response to God as you reflect on the saving graces of God through Christ? Think about creative ways you might practice remembrance of Christ’s resurrection each day as you travel through the liturgical Season of Easter.
  • Peter’s imperative to love one another is not a novel command. Our Lord Jesus condensed the whole Law of God into two commands: Love God and love others as he has loved you. Loving others is not often an easy thing to do. What encouragement do you find for help to love others as Jesus loved you from Peter’s analogy of God’s seed implanted in our hearts and his living Word given to us (vs.22-23)?

Eugene Peterson in The Message describes 1 Peter 1:22-25 like this:

Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth,
love one another as if your lives depended on it.
Your new life is not like your old life.
Your old birth came from mortal sperm;
your new birth comes from God’s living Word.
Just think: a life conceived by God himself!
That’s why the prophet said,

The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers droop,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.

This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.

  • Walk with Jesus for a few moments as he engages discouraged, hopeless disciples on the Emmaus road (turn to Luke 24:13-35 and read the Resurrection narrative). How are the disciples changed by their discreet encounter with the Risen Lord of Life? How might you experience a change of heart and blossoming hope as you continue to walk with Jesus, listening to his Word and breaking bread in fellowship with him and other believers?

Season of Easter Readings: Sunday, April 27

Reading: 1 Peter 1:3-9 and John 20:19-31

Reflection Questions:

  1. Recalling recent readings of the disciples, namely Peter, as they journeyed with Jesus through his trails, tortured death and resurrection, listen to Peter’s voice, his heart, his audacious faith and understanding of life after Jesus’ ascension from the opening of his letter to Jesus followers (1 Peter 1:3-9). What do you hear? What do you sense changed for Peter?
  2. As you sit with Peter’s words, his wisdom, what encouragement do you receive? What lessons might you learn from this sage follower of Christ? Is there something to embrace, take hold of for your own current circumstances and life experience?
  3. Peter likened his experience of Jesus’ resurrection to new birth, a second chance at life, newness of life. Think about Peter’s description: “he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (v.3). What does this description convey to you? How might you describe your own experience of Jesus and his resurrection?
  4. The resurrection of Jesus has impacted and changed humanity for centuries. How has it changed you? Is there a testimony, a story to tell, of the ways you’ve experienced or are experiencing Jesus’ resurrection life, hope, salvation? Look for creative, bold ways to tell your story to others this week!