In Mark 14: 66 – 72 Peter denies Jesus, and breaks a promise made to Jesus made earlier in the chapter. Peter had boldly proclaimed that he loved Jesus more than any of these other disciples and Jesus replied that before dawn he would deny that he even knew Him.
Our identities are formed by the promises we keep. Without promises there is no lasting sense of identity and no sense of community. This is why Peter is so destroyed by this betrayal: he has lost his identity. Who is he really? Is he the Peter of v. 29 and 31 who will die with Jesus or is he the Peter of v. 71 who curses Jesus and claims to not even know him. Peter is devastated by this failure and is a broken man because in failing like this he has lost his identity.
People today like to define their identities not by their commitments but by their passions, and their feelings. What do people say when facing a challenge to their identity? “I want to go find myself.” How do they do that? By releasing themselves of every obligation, every commitment and chasing a vivid and intense emotional experience.
The problem is that it doesn’t work. I have never heard of a person returning from one of these personal odysseys with a clear sense of self and a plan for going forward. The reason it doesn’t work is that you are basing your identity on your feelings which are both constantly changing and contradictory. How can you define yourself by an emotional response when that response could change by tomorrow? Instead, your identity needs to be centered in something that doesn’t change. Continue reading