My wife and I are pretty new to Sandpoint. We’ve lived here about four months and we already love the close community of people, the abundance of outdoor activities, and most of all, the lake. The snow is beautiful, but we seriously can’t wait until summer!
Driving by Pend Oreille every day on the way to work reminds me of one of my favorite stories that happens to take place on the shore of a lake. If you’ve got a Bible, it’s recorded in chapter 21 of the book of John. (Online Bibles work great, too!) Jesus is talking with one of his disciples named Peter. The disciples were 12 guys that Jesus spent virtually every moment with for three years. Jesus and Peter were close, to say the least.
Imagine Jesus standing on the beach in board shorts and flip flops next to his vintage Volkswagen camper van with a surfboard on the roof, firing up the grill ready for a beach barbecue with His dudes. OK, maybe that’s not the most historically accurate picture of the setting of this story, but it does make me laugh to think about it.
Jesus asks Peter, “…do you love me?” to which Peter responds, “you know that I love you.” Just some backstory, a few days earlier when Jesus was arrested, put on trial and being sentenced to death, Peter had flat out denied having anything to do with Jesus. Basically, his God and friend was in harm’s way and he betrayed Him. He was probably scared the same thing would happen to him. I would be, too.
Now Jesus, having risen from the dead, wants to see if Peter still cares about Him. I can only imagine the regret that Peter felt in this moment, but Jesus forgives him. Better yet, Jesus tells Peter that He wants him to be the leader of His followers when He leaves. I bet Peter was stoked! Jesus just turned the tables on him (as Jesus so often does) and chose to rebuild a relationship, rather than break one apart.
This story is such a reminder to me about the power of forgiveness. Anyone who’s had a pulse over the last year can see that we live in a nation that’s pretty divided and upset right now. Life gets messy. We’ve all been burned by someone, and we’ve all probably burned someone, too. What would life look like if we all forgave like Jesus? What would our relationships, our town, and our nation look like if we simply knew how to love others like we want to be loved? What would happen if we learned to recognize differences for what they are but still treat others like human beings, rather than ideas, philosophies, or agendas? My guess is that we’d all start to see our world change for the better.
Andrew Muncherian is the youth pastor at Cedar Hills Church.