Christian Counseling Certification: What is a Petrine Relationship?
In Christian Counseling, do ever notice different types of Christians who possess different characteristics in their relationship with the Lord? One relationship to view is Peter. When we look at Peter and our Lord, we see a definite relationship that was special beyond the other apostles. It contained certain qualities of leadership, inspiration and a deep bond. This unique relationship played itself out from the very first time Christ and Peter went aboad his fishing boat to Peter’s ultimate end and martydom in Rome.
Peter as a Leader
Peter is seen as the leader of the apostles. Christ chose him among the first to follow him. He also challenged Peter more than any other because he saw the seed of leadership in him. On one occassion, Peter is the first to proclaim Christ Lord. On other occassions, we see the faith of Peter explode as he jumped out of the boat to walk to our Lord on the water. While the other apostles remain hesitant, Peter stood out and led. Later in Peter’s life, Christ will tell Peter that he will be the rock of the church and to feed his sheep.
Peter as a Fallen Human
Yet with all this expectation, we still find in Peter a true person. A human much like ourselves. Peter is filled with love for God but is so imperfect on so many occassions. Even when Peter walked upon the water to our Lord, he lost concentration of Christ and began to drown. In other stories, we see Peter’s insistance to never deny our Lord and even in the garden, he raised his sword to defend his master, yet hours later, he denied his Lord three times.
Later after Christ’s resurrection, Christ asked Peter three times if he loved him. Many contend that Peter was given a chance to renounce each of his previous denial through this. While I believe this is true, it is also true that each time Christ asked Peter if he loved him, he asked for a certain type of love. A type of love that is lost in the English translation from the Greek. Christ three times kept asking Peter for the ultimate love of self denial and total giving. Yet Peter’s response was always a lower type of love of intense emotion and friendship. Yet, Christ still saw the potential in Peter and asked for a lesser love in his final declaration, but forewarned Peter that one day he would feed his sheep and die for him because of his intense love.
Even in Peter’s later days, among the intense persecution in Rome, legend has that as Peter fled the city he was met by the glorified Lord, who was returning to Rome. Legend states that Christ warned Peter if he would not stay with his flock that Christ himself would die again with his people. While legend, -or maybe not, it does point to Peter’s spiritual evolution of finally accepting his cross and showing his ultimate love for his master.
Peter the Final Product
So from this simple fisherman came the first leader of the Christian Church. A simple jewish man who would take the reigns from Christ and guide the church, through his leadership and inspired writings. This final product was a soul that willingly died for Christ and found himself unjust to die as his master, hence insisting upside down crucifixion. This amazing transformation was due to a consistent commitment to Christ despite any pitfalls or failures. It relied on hope from the Holy Spirit to guide him and allow him to constantly return to Christ with even more fire than before. Yes, Peter always had that fire, but it needed fed and refueled.
Do We Have A Petrine Relationship?
Most of us do have a Petrine relationship with Christ. ! We have a fire for Christ. We love him and say we will do anything–and probably mean it at the time of saying it! But it is so difficult to carry through. Our broken human nature, our fears and the temptations of the world sometimes push us away and we lose focus–much like Peter did when he stood before our Lord on the water. However, unlike others who despaired, like Judas, Peter never gave up. Even after denial, he wept bitterly and became a better man and Christian. How many times do we see this same pattern in our own life? While many of us would like to see ourselves like John, steadfast and devout, most of us are more like Peter. We have a strong love for the Lord but sometimes fail.
I feel Christ has a special love for “Peter” types. Maybe its because I feel I fit into this group as well! Those who have a Petrine relationship with Christ are almost paralled to Christ the way a loving father is to his son. The father sees the good intent of his child and the potential of his child to be the very best son no matter his current short comings. Peter was this type. And ultimately, the finished product of his soul was something we should all hope to emulate.
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Mark Moran, MA