Two middle-aged men meet in an inn in a small, unremarkable village. They embrace, their heavy, solid hands slapping each others’ broad backs affectionately. They kiss twice, on each cheek. They sit and eat, hunching over the shared table in a conspiratorial way. They are like two old lions, warriors who’ve fought many battles but live to fight another day.
After a while, the first man says, “The Corinthians still causing you a headache, Paul? Should I blame them for all your gray whiskers?”
“Headaches and whiskers are nothing, Peter. Have you heard the latest? You don’t want to know. Jealousy, quarrels, and divisions. Some of them have even rejected me as an apostle. After even such a long time, they’re still babies in Christ. I’ve written them four letters about all this, and each one seems to get me into further trouble with them.”
“How are the churches in Galatia doing?” Paul asks after downing a mouthful from his cup. Peter shakes his head slowly. Paul continues, “Their faith was not strong enough to resist the confusions stirred up by the teaching of the Jewish Christians about the circumcision requirement, and they doubted the gospel I preached to them.”
Finally Paul says, “Peter, I’m not sure when I’ll see you again…”
“You say that every time we get together.”
“I know, and it’s always true. But in case our paths never cross again, can you tell me about him one more time.”
Peter smiles sadly, “Oh, Paul, you’ve heard me tell you those stories a million times. You tell them yourself better than I do.”
Then he fixes his eyes firmly on Peter’s and says, pleading, “Tell me again.”
This story, which is adapted from the book “ReJesus” by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, gets us thinking about what conversations might have been like between the apostles. The headaches, struggle, pain, and disappointments were innumerable. Why did they do it? Why was it worth it?
It was worth it because of who Jesus was and is and what he did for you and for me. What kept them focused on their work and strong in their faith was their dedication to keep Jesus, what he represented, and what he taught, at the center of their lives.