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Striving for Holiness

I love that it is the Apostle Peter who insists the absurdity that we can be holy as God is holy in his letter to Christians: “For it is written: Be holy, because I am holy” 1 Peter 1:10.

A rough fisherman with a big mouth, he was the guy who was always getting himself in trouble by saying what was on everyone else’s mind. Jesus rebuked him more than once—when Peter told him that he would not die on the cross, Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan” (Matt.6:23)! When Jesus wanted to wash Peter’s feet, he refused at first (John 13:8); when Jesus was surrendering to the soldiers, Peter cut off one of their slave's ears causing Jesus to heal one last time on the way to the cross (Matt. 26:51). Of course, the most famous failure of Peter was his denial of Christ three times before the rooster crowed (Matt. 26:74). Even Peter wasn’t sure he could come back from that which is precisely why Jesus gave him a private visit after His resurrection. Even when Jesus was restoring Peter on the beach after his resurrection and foretelling of Peter’s death by persecution, Peter questioned Jesus about John the Apostle’s death. Jesus' response put Peter in his place, but started some misinterpretations nonetheless about John’s death (John 21). These are our holy man Peter’s experiences in the Gospels. We are told that Paul confronted Peter strongly in the Epistles (Gal. 2:11). The holy word of God does not hold back on the evidence of lack of holiness in Peter’s life. In fact, I sense that Peter’s misdeeds are recorded more than any other Christian at the time. I am most grateful for Peter. I so appreciate his imperfections being recorded in the holy word of God along with the undeniable fact that Jesus placed Peter as the leader of the church.

Peter was relentless in his search for holiness. Right up until the end of his life, he was writing to the churches encouraging them to grow in virtues and in holiness. His own struggles for holiness were never an excuse to claim that holiness is impossible. Indeed, it appears that his pursuit of holiness increased as he aged. Past failure does not exempt any Christian from setting their sights on holiness even while living in a fallen world.

The path to holiness—detach from the world by setting your sights on heaven. Peter’s instructions are always to consider what an amazing God and Father, Savior and brother and Holy Spirit we have living within us. He tells us to ignore the suffering or think about suffering as normal in this life. Don’t let hard circumstances bring you down. See your suffering as opportunities to increase your faith. Understand that increased faith is the real portion of riches gained in this world and it lasts forever.

Peter’s life of victories and defeats in following Christ produced a beautiful humble soul who was able to be lifted up as the leader of the church. His failures led to humility which led to putting his only hope in the power and presence of God. Peter gives me hope that I too can strive for holiness even though I fall so short of it.


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