Both/and – This has got to be one of my favorite phrases. Often in life we are faced with “either/or” situations. Either it’s cold or it’s warm. Either I am happy or I am sad. Either I have everything I need or I have a wish list a mile long in my Amazon account. While it is true that often we are faced with either/or circumstances, I think sometimes we apply this divisive mindset in places where it doesn’t work.
In particular, I am thinking about Peter in the gospel for this Sunday. In this passage from Luke, Peter exhibits incredible faith and follows the command of Jesus by putting out into the deep and casting his nets once again. Of course later we know he becomes the rock on whom Jesus builds the Church. Peter is the leader of the Apostles and the first pope.
On the other hand, the guy tells Jesus, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” In another story he sinks in this same lake because he doesn’t fully trust Jesus. Jesus refers to him as Satan in another moment.
We could say Peter is either a saint, disciples, and leader of the early church or a sinner, failure, and poser with weak faith. The question at hand has to be is Peter a saint or a sinner?
Of course this isn’t an either/or answer. Peter is both. Peter was a sinner and Peter is a Saint. Both are true. Our world wants to say if you are one you can’t be the other. We would say every sinner can be a saint (and unfortunately every saint can be a sinner.).
Each and everyone of us is made in the image and likeness of God. We are made good. All of us who are baptized are the very sons and daughters of God. We are God’s children. Yet each and everyone of us sins. We fail and fall and don’t live up to our true identity.
Am I saying it’s okay for saints to persist in sin? No. Every single Saint has actively worked against the sin in their life. What I am saying is that If you consider yourself a sinner, that doesn’t disqualify you from seeking sainthood.
In other words, we are worth saving and we need of a savior.
What I think this means for us is that we should be confidence in the Lord. When we sin, we should be confident that he love us, wants to forgive us, and can save us. If we are feeling particularly saintly, we can be confident that it is only by God’s grace that we sought goodness. Whether you think you are a sinner or a saint you might just be right. God wants to save you either way.
Live it: Sometimes it is helpful reflect on our desire to be saints. On a scale of 1-10 how much do you want to be a saint? What would it take to increase your desire for the sainthood by just one degree? Go do that thing.