So, asked my therapist, who is a Christian, what verses do you look to when you need to feel hopeful (you see I have been seeing a counselor for my depression). I couldn’t answer the question. You see that is not how I think and learn. You see, I am more big picture, or meta, in my thinking.
In fact I am slightly envious of Christians who are able to precisely locate useful passages from Scripture in answer to any given pastoral situation. In a spirit of confession I also find it slightly (alright you win, highly) nauseating.
But, I can tell you the exchange, or conversation, in the Gospel that has had the most impact on me during my training for ordination. (But, I couldn’t give you chapter and verse without going to look it up). It is, wait for it………………………
John 21, 21 and you would have thought that I could remember that of by heart! And, John 21, 22, (far harder to remember when you add in a second verse!)
‘‘When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘if it is my will that he remain until I come what is that to you.’
Jesus response could colloquially be translated as ‘Peter, mind your own business.’
Why has this exchange become so important for me? Why is it so personal? Why is it one of those Scriptures I can truly, painfully, enter right into? Here are some thoughts:
- It depicts Jesus as being totally focused on Peter. Glorious, yet painful. To what extent are we happy to let the Divine be totally focused on us?
- By contrast Peter is looking for a distraction, he wants to deflect attention away from him, onto someone else. Such is his level of inferiority, or is it superiority? Ouch!
- It reveals the massive difference between how Jesus (therefore God) ascribes and, how we measure value as humans. Jesus is only interested in Peter’s ministry, his unique calling, in commissioning Peter to be the person that only Peter can be. Peter’s mindset by contrast is one of relativity. He can, at this stage, only measure his ministry by reference to another human being, in this case another and much loved disciple. To what extent do you ‘measure’ you ministry in relation to another person / church etc, and not solely by reference to your unique and distinctive calling?
During my training I realized, (or was it revealed to me?) that Jesus was calling me to my own unique ministry, yes it is a ministry that exists within the mosaic of the ‘one catholic and apostolic church,’ but all I need to be concerned with is my own ministry. I need to care about, and pray for, fellow disciples, but what I am not called to do is to compete, or to measure. Still less I am called to judge or criticize. I am called onto get on with that which is mine to do, trusting all others to God, irrespective of whether I like or dislike what they are doing.
God, save me (us / you) from relativity, Amen.