What would you do?
John 18: 25-27 (NRSVA)
25 Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
More than once I have been asked in a job interview, “What would you do if…?” I have come to loath such questions! Not because I do not know what to say, but because I think they are completely pointless questions. Until we face a situation, we have no idea how we will react. Even if we have faced a similar situation in the past, we cannot guarantee we will act in the same way again. For example, I have had quite extensive fire-fighting training in the past. I would like to think that, should I come across a small-ish fire, I would react by using the nearest appropriate extinguisher whilst raising the alarm to those around me. But I might freeze. Or run away screaming. Right now, I do not know how I would react.
It can be easy to criticise Peter’s denials, particularly as it is Peter who is infamous for going from hero-to-zero in the blink of an eye. But, in all honesty, I do not know what I would have done that night if the questions had been directed at me. Do you?
When we say or do things of which we are not proud,
when we fail to say or do things when we really ought,
remind us that we are only human,
and that you do not demand perfection.
Help us to be gentle with ourselves,
compassionate in the face of shame,
so we might not shelter in fear
but grow in hope,
guided always by your Spirit, AMEN.