Christians seem to scream at anyone who they think screwed up. But Jesus, oddly enough, was never like that. In fact, he seemed to take both the big, life-is-never-going-to-be-the-same kind of mistakes in stride as easily as the little things. It didn’t matter what kind of screw up it was; Jesus treated them, and the people who made them, the same.
We’ve all had relationships that hit rocky spots. Sometimes the relationship survives, sometimes it doesn’t. Jesus knows what that’s like. One of Jesus’s closest friends and most devoted friends was also one that cut him the deepest.
In the course of a single night, Jesus’s loud-mouthed friend Peter argued with him, completely failed to understand the assignment, then fell asleep when Jesus needed a friend the most. Then he got violent with Jesus’s enemies, only to be yelled at by Jesus. And to top it all off he denied knowing Jesus all together to the very people who were trying to kill his friend.
When Jesus and Peter did finally talk, Jesus didn’t bring up Peter’s complete failure as a friend. Instead, he asked Peter if Peter really did love him . . . three times. Maybe once for each time Peter swore he didn’t know Jesus. Jesus was willing to move past Peter’s mistakes, his ignorance, his hypocrisy, his abandonment, and the violence that Jesus outrightly condemned.
Jesus was a friend that could be counted on to be there for you even when you weren’t there for him. It was Jesus that stayed loyal to Peter after all of Peter’s screw-ups. But Jesus didn’t go to scold or to make Peter feel guilty—he had plenty of guilt on his own. Jesus went to Peter to make sure Peter was still with him.
That’s what Jesus does. He doesn’t expect people to be perfect. It doesn’t matter what mistakes we’ve made, nothing we could have done—that’s right, nothing—would ever make Jesus not accept us. Nothing we do makes him disown us. Even if the things we do are against him.
There are plenty of times that people who say they follow Jesus act nothing like him. There are times when Christians, by their words or their actions, deny that they know Jesus. They can be cruel, judgmental, racist, violent, and full of hatred, and sometimes all at once. Jesus forgives all of that.
But don’t mistake forgiveness for permission. Jesus himself showed nothing but care—even for those who wanted to kill him. And he expects people who claim to be his friends to do better even if they do screw up and badly. He never says he done with us no matter how bad of a mess we have made things.