“Jesus’ favorite disciple told Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon heard that it was the Lord, he put on the clothes that he had taken off while he was working. Then he jumped into the water.” – John 21:7 CEV
We’ve studied this passage the last two weeks at church. I admit when the scripture was read, my mind started wandering. I was thinking about Peter, naked.
Oh, I know I was probably not the only one. Things tend to distract us. Especially the word “naked”….which was in the version of the text actually read. Probably pastors should include it every Sunday and attendance may go up. But then again, maybe the congregation will get distracted.
I started thinking more about Peter, though. Naked Peter.
There he was, out with the friends fishing. I suppose he didn’t want tan lines, or maybe didn’t want to smell like fish, or maybe wanted to annoy his friends, so he took off his clothes.
Then Jesus, “the holy one”, shows up. Peter, startled, jumps in the water. All of a sudden his nakedness was not appropriate. He was a disciple, after all. One of the chosen. He hid himself. Or tried. He wasn’t comfortable being that same version of him when Jesus was around.
Yet this was the same guy who was confused as to why Jesus would doubt the quality of their relationship. He couldn’t believe Jesus would question his love. Oh Peter, it’s in the little things that you betray yourself.
I’m a people watcher. Yes, I’m the one who watches you even sometimes when you think no one is. (Creepy? Maybe.) Those times are important…..because they portray the real you. Or a part of the real you that you try to hide from me. From others. From yourself. I have always found the inconsistencies interesting and it’s simply easier to see them when you are unaware. I don’t set out to “spy”…..I just don’t turn away when I see you.
Oh don’t worry…..I gather data at other times. When you know I am watching. What you say, how you say it. When you appear nervous. When you’re overly poised. When your story isn’t quite the same this time as last time you told it. We all collect not just what is said, but what your body tells us. Well, most of us do.
Because I am a data gatherer, I just may know far more about you than you think I do. Many people in your life probably do. That which you think you hide, often is not well hidden.
Oh, many of us will not bring it up. Often there is no reason. That which you think you need to hide, would not be a concern to us. That you feel you need to hide it? Far more interesting.
There are people who are different around me than they are around other people they know. Some would say that is natural. They don’t want to upset people by being something that would displease them, so they put on different versions of themselves. It’s the “polite” thing to do. It’s the people version of using their inside voice. They want to leave a certain impression, depending on your role in their life.
I made a decision years ago to try to live authentically. I’m nowhere close to perfect, but I try to live consistently…..whether I be around saint or sinner, rich man or poor man, liberal or conservative, president or peon. Because really, why not?
One thing I have found is that life is easier. If someone wants to disagree with me, or tell me how they think I should do or be, then they can have at it. I may choose to listen, I may not. But it happens far less than you would think. I’ve learned to pick my battles, so even if I listen, I may choose not to engage. I get to choose how to live my life and am confident enough in my choices that I own them.
This is not to say I have no right to keep things private. I get to decide this, too. But keeping things private and hiding things…..there is a subtle but important distinction.
Peter is known for denying Christ, even after saying over and over he would never do it. Did he really believe it, or was he just jumping into the water, trying to hide? I suspect a very human Peter was just a very imperfect man. Vulnerable…like us.
This other verse was part of our scripture today – Luke 22:31-32
Jesus knew Simon was going to fail. But still, he had faith that Peter would still have a purpose, a ministry. He would realize the error of his ways and he would still (or especially) be able to help others.
Live naked. OK, maybe not without clothes. I personally plan to protect the eyes of the world and would ask you to join me. But when you feel the need to cover yourself, to appear as something you’re not, examine why.
One thing I know about Jesus……he could have handled Peter’s nakedness. I suspect he would have been amused by it. In fact, I think he would have preferred that version of Peter instead of the one prettied up and well dressed. Jesus, the son of God, sees you as you are. And accepts you, just as you are. But wants to use you anyway. Do not feel the need to jump in the water and hide.
As for the rest of us, we can probably handle the naked you. And if we can’t, maybe it is our problem?