Monday 16 March 2015

Saints Peter & Paul, Apostles

Peter and Paul are two great apostles who showed us what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Each of them were martyred for the faith, and they show us two very different approaches or styles to discipleship. Peter was a slow learner in the faith. He made a lot of mistakes, sometimes very big mistakes. He loved Jesus and yet denied that he even knew Him. Still Jesus never failed to offer Peter compassion and mercy, and always the opportunity to begin again. Paul, on the other hand, came to faith in Christ in almost an instant. Although he’s often pictured as being knocked off a horse on the road to Damascus, scripture only tells us that he was struck down by a great light. But three days later Paul turned away from persecuting the Church to become a voice of the gospel for the nations, bringing Christ's message to the Gentiles.

If we look at Peter and Paul, we could actually see, to a certain extent, two distinct styles of discipleship. Each style has got its purpose and we could call one as the Peter Style and the other as the Paul Style. The Peter Style seems to be those who try to do the right things, but who make mistakes; those who mean well, but don’t always seem to follow through; those who try to understand but who don’t always get it and when they do get it, they sometimes don’t get it right; those who fail, who repent, who get discouraged when they fail yet again, and who keep coming back, to try again. Those who have the Paul Style, are gung-ho, convinced, and are not hesitant or afraid to say it out loud. They make big demands on others as well as on themselves. They say things that are hard or difficult to say, and aren’t afraid to say it. They preach fearlessly and without reservation. The Paul style does fail too from time to time, but when they do and admit it, they move ahead stronger than ever. The Paul style can sometimes be quite annoying.

When we consider these two styles of discipleship, some of us are like the Peter style, some of us are like the Paul style, and some of us are of both styles at different times, places and situations in our lives. If we are aware of which style we are in, we can then learn to understand and appreciate the other style, and learn how to work together for the glory of God.

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