Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Peter became one of my favorite apostles this afternoon. Today I experienced the gospel by failing to share it.
My wife and I spent time photographing mountains in Grand Teton National Park. Nearby another man was also taking pictures. As is custom in front of something so memorable, we asked him to take our picture, which is actually quite a scary thing for my wife. Entrusting her camera over to foreign hands is dangerous. He snapped a great shot of us, shared small talk with us, and then went on his way. As I went back to the driver’s side of our vehicle, my peripheral vision caught site of the man coming around the backside of the car. I knew what was coming, for I had seen the hat he was wearing. “Have you ever heard of this book?” He extended his religious book to me. I told him I had. “As a welcoming present from the West, I want to give this to you.” “Thank you,” I said, and smiled.
I could almost hear a rooster crowing. “Thank you.” I couldn’t believe I said that. I wasn’t thankful; I was passive. Like Adam in the Garden, rather than offering who I am to the situation, I held back. I did not let the Holy Spirit speak through me.
Struggling with incredible guilt and shame minutes and hours later, something occurred to me. For the rest of my life, someone could approach me in like manner, and I could be silent, choosing not to share Christ in me, and I would still be covered by grace. If we have been set free, then we are free. In the aftermath of the situation, I tried to work out a system of redemption by deciding to write the man a letter, sharing what I would have spoken. Except that writing a letter was more about trying to make up for my sin than loving the man with truth. I was stuck. No amount of effort could pick up the pieces of my silence.
The only place to go was to the Cross. Grace is a difficult concept for me, but this time I saw clearly that it was my only hope. And thus, I experienced the gospel by failing to share it. I hope to develop more like Peter did, passive at first, and then bold enough to be crucified upside down later. Yet, hoping to become like Peter could easily become a means of making up for my sin. It cannot. Blood must be shed. And it was not my own. And I want to rest there.