15So when they had eaten, Jesus says to Simon Peter,”Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He says to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He (Jesus) says to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16He says to him a second time, “Shepherd my sheep.” 17Jesus says to him a third time, “Do you love me?” And he says to him, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.” Jesus says to him, “Tend my sheep. 18Very truly I tell you, when you were a young man, you dressed yourself and you walked about wherever you wished, but when you get old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and will take you where you don’t want to go.” 19Now he said this signifying what type of death he would glorify God with. And having said this he said thim, “Follow me!” — John 21:15-19
When you find that you need to correct someoneâ€”or that you want toâ€”just how do you go about it? Do you yell? Do you spend a long time detailing their many faults and failings? Do you threaten them with dire consequences should they fail to mend their ways? Or do you treat them with respect, speaking to them a someone you are sure can do better but just needs some guidance and encouragement?
How do your superiors treat you? Do you feel respected? Do you feel like someone who is a valuable asset to your company, your church, or your family? Do you feel as though you can become a much greater asset if you take the constructive criticism to heart? Or do you feel put down, irredeemable, a waste of someone’s time?
Jesus gave us an example of redemption in this little story about Peter. Our pastor at Gonzalez UMC, Riley Richardson, preached on this, and I got to hear it twice, two weeks in succession. I normally hear his sermons twice, but this time we had different messages at two services two weeks in a row, and I just happened to catch the same one twice those two weeks in a row. It was a good sermon to catch twice, even three or four times.
Peter had claimed to be the great disciple, the one disciple who would â€œdisciple onâ€ no matter how tough things got. But around a little fire as he watched Jesus on trial, he gave up at the first challenge. He denied his Lord three times. The other disciples probably let him know of his failure. â€œHey, faithful disciple,â€ they likely said, â€œWhat was that again about never leaving him?â€ Of course they didn’t really have much cause for pride. They had all run off.
Now there are two attitudes one can take when approaching someone who has failed. The first is to assume that the person is going down hill, will likely fail, but might possibly be stopped, or at least prevented from causing more damage, if we hit them hard enough. That’s the world’s attitude. In the world, that’s sometimes the way things have to be. But all too often it becomes our attitude as Christians as well.
But that’s not an attitude worthy of Jesus. As Christians, redeemed by the blood of the lamb, we MUST believe in redemption. If we don’t believe in redemption, how can we believe we ourselves are redeemed? Jesus approached everyone as someone who could potentially be redeemed. He approached Peter as one who WAS redeemed from his failure alreadyâ€”he just needed to know it.
How will you face your subordinates, superiors, coworkers, and family members today? Will you do it as one redeemed by the blood of the lamb, who knows they are also redeemable, or will you assume failure?
One last thought: Will you think about that when you’re about to yell at your children too?